Gay rights groups in the US are outraged by the Obama administration’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars the federal recognition of same-sex marriages that have been legalised in six states.

In response to a lawsuit against DOMA, the Department of Justice came out in support of the law and called for the case to be dismissed. During his election campaign, however, Obama said that he supported repealing DOMA.

A number of groups issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment at the administration’s justification for supporting the law, which effectively means that married same-sex couples cannot receive federal benefits and tax breaks available to hetrosexual married couples.

“The administration is using many of the same flawed legal arguments that the Bush administration used. These arguments rightly have been rejected by several state supreme courts as legally unsound and obviously discriminatory,” said the groups.

The administration argued that it would be unfair that federal tax money be used to assist same-sex couples that were married in their respective states.

“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,” said the organisations.

“When President Obama was courting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters, he said that he believed that DOMA should be repealed. We ask him to live up to his emphatic campaign promises, to stop making false and damaging legal arguments, and immediately to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA and ensure that every married couple in America has the same access to federal protections.”

The White House responded by saying that while Obama wants to repeal DOMA, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, “the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.”

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