There's a completely decent reason to keep DOMA in place for the time being, especially in the federal courts right now - where bad precedents could wound us in the future. But to file an actual brief re-stating some of the worst and most denigrating arguments against gay civil equality is just bizarre. They could have argued for a narrow ruling or kept the "reasonable" arguments to a minimum. What they did - without any heads up to any of their gay supporters and allies - is unconscionable. Citing incest precedents? Calling gay couples free-loaders? Arguing that our civil rights are not impinged because we can marry someone of the opposite sex? Who on earth decided that that was a great idea? Marc is right that this will be simply incomprehensible to most gay people. To have unloaded it after refusing to do anything on DADT, after failing to lift the HIV travel ban, after punting on even pure symbolism like hate crimes - well, it's no way to treat those who worked their butts off to elect you, as all the major groups have now said:
We disagree with many of the administration's arguments, for example that DOMA is a valid exercise of Congress's power, is consistent with Equal Protection or Due Process principles, and does not impinge upon rights that are recognized as fundamental. We are also extremely disturbed by a new and nonsensical argument the administration has advanced suggesting that the federal government needs to be "neutral" with regard to its treatment of married same-sex couples in order to ensure that federal tax money collected from across the country not be used to assist same-sex couples duly married by their home states.
There is nothing "neutral" about the federal government's discriminatory denial of fair treatment to married same-sex couples: DOMA wrongly bars the federal government from providing any of the over one thousand federal protections to the many thousands of couples who marry in six states. This notion of "neutrality" ignores the fact that while married same-sex couples pay their full share of income and social security taxes, they are prevented by DOMA from receiving the corresponding same benefits that married heterosexual taxpayers receive. It is the married same-sex couples, not heterosexuals in other parts of the country, who are financially and personally damaged in significant ways by DOMA. For the Obama administration to suggest otherwise simply departs from both mathematical and legal reality.
I'm baffled by this, I really am. The content of this brief is a massive political error from an administration that is making it impossible for its gay supporters to stay supportive. What's next? A Clintonian political ad boasting of these arguments?