House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has
criticized House Speaker John Boehner over his plans to intervene in
another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA is the Clinton-era law which bars
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and
The new lawsuit was filed last month by
the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris,
who is seeking benefits as a disabled veteran for her wife Maggie
Gay weekly The
Washington Blade reported that Boehner is expected to
intervene in the case next week.
Pelosi is joined by House Minority Whip
Steny Hoyer in a letter rebuking Boehner for the decision.
“The latest decision not only ignores
the civil rights of LGBT Americans but opens a new, direct assault on
veterans,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote. “The men and women of our
Armed Forces serve with courage and dignity on behalf of our safety
and security. They risk their lives for the country they love –
and they should not face prejudice at home because of whom they love.
These brave soldiers deserve nothing less than our gratitude, our
respect, and the benefits they have earned in battle.”
The Republican-led House last year
ordered the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend
DOMA after President Barack Obama instructed the Department of
Justice (DOJ) to no longer defend the law in court. BLAG authorized
up to $1.5 million and hired attorney Paul Clement to defend the law.
Tracey Cooper-Harris began receiving
disability benefits in 2010 after she was diagnosed with acquiring
multiple sclerosis in connection with her military service but has
been denied spousal benefits for her wife.