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President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which has since 1996 banned federal recognition of same-sex unions.
The announcement was made in a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to congressional leaders in relation to two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, which challenge a section of DOMA that defines marriage for federal purposes as only between one man and one woman.
Obama "has made the determination," Holder wrote, that Section 3 "as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment."
Holder wrote that the president has instructed government lawyers to no longer defend the law in those two lawsuits.