House Speaker John Boehner has moved to
defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.
Boehner announced on Friday a
five-member panel to consider whether to instruct the House's
nonpartisan Office of the General Counsel to defend the law.
announced last week that his administration would no longer
defend the 1996 law that bans federal agencies from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples and allows states to
ignore such marriages from out of state. The president said he
believes parts of the law are unconstitutional.
The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group
includes three Republicans – Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy – and two Democrats –
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
"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
Pelosi vowed to vote against allowing
the House to defend DOMA.
"This legislation has long raised
constitutional questions and has long been viewed as a violation of
the equal protection clause," Pelosi said in a statement.
"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."