Lawmakers are weighing in on President
Barack Obama's decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA) in court.
Facing a March 11 deadline to respond
to two legal challenges to the 1996 law that bans federal agencies
from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples,
on Wednesday directed the Department of Justice to end its defense of
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
called the decision bad timing.
“While Americans want Washington to
focus on creating jobs and cutting spending the president will have
to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a
controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,” said Boehner
Spokesman Michael Steel.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a
Democrat from California and a staunch supporter of gay rights,
praised the decision.
“Thrilled @TheJusticeDept is no
longer defending an indefensible statute-all American families should
be treated equally! #DOMA,” Pelosi tweeted to her nearly 44,000
Other Democrats agreed.
“I applaud today's decision by the
Justice Department to stand on the right side of history and end its
support of the disgraceful Defense of Marriage Act,” Illinois
Representative Mike Quigley said in a statement. “It is my hope
that this momentum carries us to a full dismantling of the Defense of
Marriage Act and a new era of civil rights for every American.”
“This marks the first time that the
federal government has recognized that a law to harm LGBT Americans
and their families cannot be justified,” New York Representative
Jerrold Nadler said in a statement.
Nadler added that he'll reintroduce a
bill that would repeal DOMA.
“I urge all of my colleagues to join
me in this effort,” he said.