Saturday, March 5, 2011

Boehner says the House will defend DOMA

On Thursday, there was a large contingent of people from across the country who were participating in HRC's lobby day. According to a group of them I ran into just outside the US Capitol, they were "getting some traction" on anti-bullying laws and were also talking with legislators about ENDA and tax policies relating to health benefits for same sex partners. They were also pleased to hear about the recent announcement that the Obama administration won't be defending Defense of Marriage Act in the court system.

Sadly, there might be some cause for their celebration over DOMA to be short lived because John Boehner announced yesterday that he "will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend" the Defense of Marriage Act. This ultimately means that the House of Representatives will send counsel to the Federal courts in order to defend the law since the Obama Administration won't.

The group making the decision about whether to proceed consists of the Speaker, the majority and minority leaders, and the majority and minority whips. In other words, the Republicans have a 3 to 2 majority and will likely vote to proceed with defending the policy. With that in mind, both Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer have come out in opposition to defending the law. The following is what Rep. Hoyer had to say:
“The Speaker has indicated he is going to convene the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to decide whether to intervene in cases concerning the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe the Administration has correctly concluded that the statute is discriminatory and unconstitutional. I therefore will oppose intervening in cases regarding this Act.

“The Justice Department's decision not to defend this law is not without precedent. Since 1979, there have been over 50 instances in which both Democratic and Republican Administrations have declined to defend acts of Congress. Rarely has the House intervened to defend the constitutionality of statutes that the Justice Department has declined to defend.”

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