[Ed. – Nah, he’s cool]
are crying “lawless” over the Obama administration’s decision last week to recognize the 1,300 same-sex marriages performed in Utah after a federal judge opened the door to these weddings last month—since shut, at least for now, by the Supreme Court. Are the critics right: Is Attorney General Eric Holder making this up as he goes along?
The problem for Holder, in granting federal benefits to these couples, is that Utah has decided to do the opposite, withholding state benefits by putting state recognition of the marriages “ON HOLD.” And the authority Holder cited for his decision, the Supreme Court’s verdict last June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, is partly rooted in ensuring equality and dignity to gay couples and partly rooted in the power ofstates to define marriage. The court said DOMA was unconstitutional because “no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. But the majority also said the federal government should follow state recognition of gay marriage. And right now, the state of Utah does not recognize gay marriage. As Holder himself put it, Utah’s governor has announced that Utah won’t recognize these marriages as the case continues to be on appeal. That’s the governor’s call to make and surely a fair reading of his constituents’ views (though maybe that will change faster than he thinks now that gay marriage has gone and happened).