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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

House Republicans take action to defend Defense of Marriage Act

By Felicia Sonmez and Ben Pershing

Updated 4:10 p.m.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday that the House will take action to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a little over a week after President Obama instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the law, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Boehner announced that he will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a first step toward taking action in the House to defend the law.

"It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy," Boehner said in a statement. "The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts -- not by the president unilaterally -- and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution."

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group consists of the top three House Republicans - Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) - as well as the top two Democrats - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

The group, which has the authority to instruct the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the House, often gets involved in situations where House leaders believe there are institutional or separation-of-powers issues involved.

For instance, when the FBI raided then-Rep. William Jefferson's (D-La.) office in 2006, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group requested that the House counsel file a memorandum stating that the search violated the government's separation of powers.

In that case, there was bipartisan agreement among the leaders - something that's not likely to happen on the hot-button issue of DOMA.

Pelosi said in a statement after Boehner's announcement that not only would it place Republicans "squarely on the wrong side of history and progress," it would likely cost the House hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

"President Obama took a bold step forward for civil rights and equality when he announced that the federal government would no longer argue to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act in court," Pelosi said. "This legislation has long raised constitutional questions and has long been viewed as a violation of the equal protection clause. That's why I voted against it on the floor, and that's why I oppose Speaker Boehner's effort to put the House in the position of defending this indefensible statute."

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), called Boehner's move "a great win for marriage, for democracy and for our Constitutional processes."

"We are grateful to Speaker Boehner and to the GOP leadership for standing up for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and for the prerogatives of Congress," Brown said in a statement. "President Obama's radical decision to dump the defense of DOMA is not only bad politics, it is going to backfire tactically. With the House intervening, we will finally get lawyers in that courtroom who are trying to win this case--and we are confident that in the end DOMA will be upheld by the Supreme Court."

By Felicia Sonmez and Ben Pershing  | March 4, 2011; 4:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

Only the Weeper of the House would call the administration's saving possibly millions of dollars defending a law that is declared unconstitutional "opening a divisive issue". If anything, it is "closing a divisive issue", and should allow precious and limited resources to be redirected to doing the people's business.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | March 4, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

The media has taken ample note of the slower response of the GOP in condemning Obama for his negligence on defending the law of the land. But they have forgotten one of the even more telling silences: that of the congressional Democrats who have largely been scarce on it too.
Sure the usual suspects like Nancy Pelosi, Kirsten Gillibrand, Di Fi and some other liberal loudmouths were right there with their support but Harry Reid was silent as was most of the Senate and House Dems. Comning out against the federal DOMA is something most of them will be scared to do. And many Dems in both the House and Senate will support the law. To me, that's more telling than the fact that it took a week or so for the Speaker to do this. Pelosi will no doubt oppose Speaker Boehner's decision and I suppose Steny Hoyer will too but a lot of rank and file Dems will support the GOP-led effort.

Posted by: miyago123 | March 4, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Regrettably, clever propaganda programs have produced opinion polls in some parts of the US favouring 'same-sex marriage'. But propaganda, however successful, is no basis for changing marriage laws that protect social coherence through responsible procreation, and ensure 'as far as possible, a child’s right to know and be cared for by his or her parents' (i.e. by both parents--not just the maternal parent and her lesbian partner, or the paternal parent and his homosexual partner).

It is rational thought and logic, not 'homophobia', that requires reasonable people to recognize that 'same-sex marriage' must remain a hollow concept, an elaborate pretence at parity denied by nature itself,


As with the Emperor's New Clothes, the hoax involving same-sex 'marriage' is just plain silly.

Sooner or later, the crowds will see through the hoax and call out the truth.

Commonsense will triumph over attempted ideological conditioning by a strident lobby pushing the novel concept that the law should seriously endorse their absurd game of 'dress-ups' and ‘pretend’ marriage.

Posted by: ritaJ2 | March 4, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy," Boehner said in a statement.

Good call. How about skipping the DOMA-charade-commission and introducing a jobs bill?

Posted by: Goombay | March 4, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Good. As others have stated, same-sex "marriage" is a farce. For one thing, the complementarity of the sexes is missing. Having two men and two women together just isn't the same, certainly not when talking about having children. What's most disturbing is how the legalization of this in some states is now leading to lawsuits being filed against adoption agencies who refuse to place children with same-sex couples. As usual, "tolerance" is a one-way street with these people.

Posted by: linguist64 | March 4, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

GOP = Party of Greed & Bigotry.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | March 4, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I consider myself left of center politically, but on this issue, I stand with the Repubs. I suppose that sometimes politics makes strange bedfellows.

Posted by: JoStalin | March 4, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

DOMA = discrimination

Posted by: bgd1964 | March 4, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

DOMA = discrimination

Posted by: bgd1964 | March 4, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

And thus, the GOP cemented its reputation as irrelevant dinosaurs, wasting time on a puritan concept that they know in their hearts their children and grandchildren could not care less about.

Posted by: fluxgirl | March 4, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

It is a sad time when teachers are reviled as evil and Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church are the good guys. Can America remain free for long in the face of such determined malevolence?

Posted by: historian8 | March 4, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

It is always politically savvy to beat up on minorities. Might makes right. There is no such thing as tyranny of the majority. There is only one way (or the highway).

Posted by: mangograss | March 4, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The GOP only fans the flame of wedge issues to keep their insane base happy.

Really who would want/need these "adult" politicians to address real issues in America?

Posted by: waxtraxs | March 4, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

With an economic firestorm raging outside THE BELTWAY, the REPUBLIBAGGER HOUSE MAJORITY is concentrating it's concern with The Defense of Marriage Act...NOT JOBS.....NOT HELPING STRUGGLING AMERICANS....NOT ANY OF THE PRESSING PROBLEMS THAT AMERICA HAS.....
The Defense of Marriage Act....

These are FOOLS OF THE FIRST ORDER without meaningful purpose and absolutely no idea how to GOVERN.

Posted by: iheardthisbefore | March 4, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

DOMA is indefensible. The only reason it stood so long is because nobody could establish standing to sue against the law. Its legal principles are decidedly anti-conservative. Once a lawsuit was filed in the proper Appellate Circuit, the countdown began. The federal government will eventually be compelled by the courts to recognize marriage as legally defined by states, even when that definition extends to gay marriage. It doesn't mean that gay marriage will be legal in Texas or Oklahoma, it just means that when someone gay in Connecticut or Iowa gets married, the IRS can't forbid them from filing a joint return and the INS must recognize the marriage for immigration purposes if one of the partners is a foreign national.

Posted by: asja | March 4, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Could there be anything more hypocritical: "It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy," Boehner said in a statement.

DOMA already divides 'we the people' into two groups. Obama was aiming to unite them under one standard of law. And Obama WAS focusing on job creation by not wasting time on this useless, discriminatory issue.

Boehner is the one dividing the nation and wasting time on this!!! If he wants to defend marriage, then how about protecting it from divorce and adultery!

Posted by: CarolGBOS | March 4, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The Old Class is at it again... Please let it Die the way its suppose to in history just like all the rest. Wait I forget this is the new old Rebagger party. Why even call you're self Republicans?

Posted by: Longbowan | March 4, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

why is it that Boehner and other GOP hacks only utter the word "jobs" when they're attacking Obama about something totally unrelated?

Posted by: eomcmars | March 4, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Who here is so disillusioned to believe that the majority of Americans support same sex marriage?

Create a civil union for same sex couples and be done with it but do not call it marriage. Marriage is the union between a man and women.

Posted by: neil64 | March 4, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

When will Republican House members actually start keeping their campaign promise of "Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs"? Things are slightly improving, but not because of anything that they've done. I thought the November message was clear - the economy and the deficit. Get to work people!

Posted by: rdm539 | March 4, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

If DOMA is upheld, will that mean that the "Full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution can be ignored for other reasons too? Contracts made in one state are legally binding in other states. Legally, marriage is a contract. Defending DOMA should at least explain why the clear wording of the Constitution should be ignored. Only an activist judge would rule that such clear language allows exceptions based on the "feelings" of bigots.

Posted by: rdm539 | March 4, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I THINK THAT THIS DECISION BY OUR PRESIDENT IS DEFINITELY INTOLERABLE. I AS AN AMERICAN WHO LOVES THIS COUNTRY AND WHOSE HUSBAND FOUGHT TWO TIMES (ENLISTED) FOR OUR FREEDOM BELIEVE BARACK "HUSAIN" OBAMA SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS. THIS IS DEFINITELY WHAT WE AVERAGE AMERICANS WANT DONE. ALSO THIS WAS VOTED AND SIGNED BY A SITTING PRESIDENT(DEMOCRAT NO LESS) AND I FOR ONE THINK WE SHOULD STAND UP AND BE COUNTED! HE HAS JUST GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME. AND AS BEING PURITANICAL IN RESPONSE TO ONE YOUNG LADY I PRESUME. WE ARE STILL A NATION FOUNDED ON CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES AND IF YOU DONT LIKE IT -GO TO IRAN..I THOROUGHLY AGREE WITH NEIL 64. IF THE TRUTH WERE KNOWN VERY FEW AGREE WITH THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE...

Posted by: gran74 | March 4, 2011 7:31 PM | Report abuse

THIS WAS ALL DONE FOR WHAT HE THINKS IS POLITICAL GAIN BUT IM AFRAID HE MAY BE IN FOR A SURPRISE AS TO HOW AMERICANS VIEW THIS IN GENERAL.

Posted by: gran74 | March 4, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

yay gawd's sex police are back

who wants big bro except the gop?

Posted by: lichtme | March 4, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Just once I wish somebody could explain their opposition to gay marriage in an intellectually coherent and persuasive manner.

Posted by: simpleton1 | March 4, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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