House Republicans on Wednesday agreed
to include DOMA defense in a proposed House rules package.
According to The Huffington Post,
which obtained a copy of the draft language, Republicans are likely
to approve the package on Thursday when the 113th Congress
The language authorizes the House legal
team, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), to
continue defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. DOMA
is the 1996 law which forbids federal agencies from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
The House is defending the law in at
least 12 cases, including Windsor v. United States, which the
Supreme Court will hear in the spring.
Court to hear gay marriage-related Prop 8, DOMA cases.)
“[T]he Bipartisan Legal Advisory
Group continues to speak for, and articulate the institutional
position of the House in all litigation in which it appears,
including in Windsor v. United States,” the
A spokesman for House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi on Thursday criticized the move.
“Today, House Republicans will send a
clear message to LGBT families: their fiscal responsibility mantra
does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of
the future,” Drew Hammill told The Huffington Post.
“As House Democrats have time and
time again made clear, the BLAG does not speak for all Members of the
House of Representatives and we will continue to oppose this wasteful
use of taxpayer funds to defend DOMA.”
House Republicans have authorized $2
million to defend the law.
Pelosi charges House Republicans hid $2 million DOMA legal defense
Marc Solomon, national campaign
director of Freedom to Marry, the nation's largest advocate for
marriage equality, called the move “disheartening.”
“It's truly disheartening that, on a
day of new beginnings on Capitol Hill, the leadership of the House of
Representatives is advancing a measure, through its rules, to
continue spending taxpayer dollars on expensive lawyers to defend the
so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court,” Solomon said in a
statement. “This law has been struck down as unconstitutional 10
times, with support from judges appointed by Presidents Nixon,
Reagan, and both Bushes. It's past time for the Republican
leadership to listen to their constituents, a majority of whom
support the freedom to marry, and stop wasting precious resources in
an effort to treat fellow Americans as second-class citizens."