These are my links for February 23rd from 11:43 to 11:47:
- Obama administration won’t defend Defense of Marriage Act – The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the federal government's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages, a rare legal reversal and the latest in a series of political victories for gay rights activists.
The Justice Department had appealed the decision of a federal judge in Massachusetts who struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in July, saying it was obligated to defend federal statutes. The 1996 law defines marriage from the federal perspective as between a man and a woman, which means same-sex married couples are denied access to marriage-based federal benefits.
In an extraordinary change, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that he and President Obama had determined – after an extensive review – that the law's key section is unconstitutional. "Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute" in court, Holder said in a statement.
Administration officials said the review was triggered by a court-imposed filing deadline in two new legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, filed in federal courts in New York and Connecticut.
The change in position came after intense lobbying of Justice Department and White House officials by gay rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, according to activists familiar with the White House's thinking. "There has been an all-out effort to get them to do the right thing," said one activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.
Obama's relationship with the gay community, a key part of his political base, has been complicated, and activists had strongly opposed the administration's earlier defense of the federal same-sex marriage law. The president has said in the past that he does not support the right of gay couples to marry, though he said in December that his views are "evolving.
Obama has now elevated gay marriage into the 2012 Presidential race.
- Indiana Senate leader says right-to-work bill is dead – But Dems Won’t Return to Indiana Anyway – Republicans have killed a controversial labor bill that has sparked a Democrat work-stoppage and large union protests at the Statehouse.
But Democrats say that isn’t enough to get them back to the Statehouse.
The Indiana House resumed at 2 p.m. today although most Democrats were gone and the galleries — which earlier were full of protesters who were applauding and chanting — had been cleared by Republican Speaker Brian Bosma.
Shortly before that, House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer spoke to reporters from Urbana, Ill., where most House Democrats are holed up in a Comfort Suites hotels.
Bauer said the House Democrats realize Republicans won’t let them have their hope: taking 11 labor and education bills taken off the table for consideration this session. But they want more than just the one, the “right to work” measure, that Republicans today agreed to send to a study committee.
Read it all
The Dems won't be returning because there are now other issues.
Wow – negotiations of legislation in absentia – a new one for American politics
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