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Obama administration walks tricky political line on gay marriage ban

President Obama has pledged to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing gay marriage. But his Justice Department is defending the law’s constitutionality in court.

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Jen and Dawn Barbouroske pose with their daughters McKinley and Bre following a news conference with married same-sex couples on legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Washington last September.

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A federal judge in Massachusetts has thrown a hand grenade into the middle of the culture war.

By ruling Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act – which bars the federal government from recognizing gay marriage – is unconstitutional, US District Court Judge Joseph Tauro has also shined a spotlight on how the Obama administration is working at cross-purposes on the law.

President Obama has called the law known as DOMA “abhorrent” and pledged to overturn it. But his Justice Department has defended the law’s constitutionality in court – and is expected to appeal Judge Tauro’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

“While we expect the department to continue to defend DOMA on appeal, we urge the Obama administration to push Congress to repeal a law that we know, and Judge Tauro recognized, serves no purpose but to denigrate our families,” the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, said in a statement.

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