In a court filing Thursday, House
Republican leaders announced that they would no longer defend in
court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and similar statutes that
ban gay marriage.
Last month, the Supreme Court struck
down a provision of DOMA that prohibited the federal government from
recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples. Lawyers
for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which is
controlled by the House GOP majority, argued the case before the high
“[T]he House has determined, in light
of the Supreme Court's opinion in Windsor, that it no longer
will defend the statute,” BLAG lawyers wrote in their filing,
first reported. “Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to
withdraw as a party defendant.”
Plaintiffs in the case, gay military
veterans, challenged DOMA and the two statutes in Title 38 of the
U.S. Code which also defined marriage as a heterosexual union for the
purpose of benefits.
Gay rights groups cheered the news.
“After millions of taxpayer dollars
wasted defending discrimination, it's a historic sign of the times
that the House leadership is dropping its pointless quest to maintain
second-class status for lesbian and gay couples,” said HRC
President Chad Griffin in a statement.
Evan Wofson, founder and president of
Freedom to Marry, added: “It took a Supreme Court ruling, but House
Republicans have finally taken a step toward joining the majority of
Americans who have come to understand that marriage does not need
defending from committed couples – and that, as Dick Cheney put it,
'freedom means freedom for everyone.'”