When President Obama told the Justice Department in February 2011 to stop defending a key federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, it was widely assumed the department would take a neutral position and sit on the sidelines.

But with little fanfare since that announcement, the Justice Department has actually started filing legal briefs arguing that the law in question — the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — should be overturned because, the department says, it is unconstitutional.

It is a remarkable turn of events for a Justice Department that just 15 months ago was defending the law in court. Many of those same attorneys who were defending it now are urging courts to strike it down.

“Everybody thought they were taking a neutral stance. They did not indicate they were going to actively attack its constitutionality,” Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. ADF, a Christian legal group, has worked to defend the law.

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