The Obama administration has decided to no longer argue in court that the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, is constitutional.
In this statement that the Justice Department just released, Attorney General Eric Holder says that "a more heightened standard of scrutiny" needs to be applied to the issue of whether the law is constitutional because of the "documented history of discrimination" based on sexual orientation (2:05 p.m. ET: just click "fullscreen" on the box below to pull up his statement):
Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. Courtesy of The Associated Press, here is video of White House spokesman Jay Carney speaking about the decision this afternoon:
Update at 2:45 a.m. ET. The Associated Press writes that:
"The move quickly drew praise from some Democrats in Congress but a sharp response from the spokesman for Republican John Boehner, the leader of the House of Representatives.
" 'While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,' said Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel."
Update at 12:55 p.m. ET. This isn't a scientific survey designed to gauge public opinion. It's just a question aiming to generate discussion:
Update at 12:50 p.m. ET. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports for the Newscast that:
"The Obama Justice Department has been arguing to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act for two years, in courts all over the nation. Government lawyers said they were acting out of a sense of legal precedent, not moral obligation.
"Everything changed today. ... From now on the Justice Department will no longer fight to support the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court.
"But the government will enforce the law across the executive branch unless Congress repeals it or a federal judge throws it out."