The Obama administration will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. This is bad.

President Obama, in a major legal policy shift, has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that the Justice Department will now take the position in court that the act should be struck down as a violation of same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

“The president and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law,” a crucial provision of the act is unconstitutional, Mr. Holder wrote.

The move is sure to be welcomed by gay-rights advocates, who had often criticized Mr. Obama for moving too slowly in his first two years in office to address issues that concern them. Coming after the administration successfully pushed late last year for repeal of the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly, the change of policy on the marriage law could intensify the long-running political and ideological clash over same-sex marriage as the 2012 presidential campaign approaches.

Ya think? Gay marriage just went to near the top of the list of issues that Republican Presidential candidates will be facing.

So I guess now the Justice Department only enforces the laws that the President likes?

Ya’ know I’m starting to think Obama might be like reeeeeaaaaaaally liberal. Who’d a thunk it?

I’ll keep updates coming on this.

Update #1: Maggie Gallagher, Chair of the National Organization for Marriage responds on Fox. She seems stunned but also said that this could be good news since the Justice Department was tanking the fight anyway. Look for the House to get involved in this.

Update 2: Bench Memos has solid info and interesting angles on all this.

Update 3 by Patrick.

Can somebody verify if either one of the Oaths Obama took included the language “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States for only those Laws I like. “??

Separation of powers is not his strong suit.