The House's four openly gay representatives – Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Jared Polis of Colorado, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and David Cicilline of Rhode Island – have joined with Jerrold Nadler of New York and John Conyers of Michigan to urge House Speaker John Boehner not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Boehner on Friday announced the creation of a five-member panel to consider whether to instruct the House's nonpartisan Office of the General Counsel to defend the law after President Barack Obama last week instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the law because he believed parts of it are unconstitutional. DOMA bans federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples and allows states to ignore such marriages from out of state.

Nadler, who recently announced he would reintroduce his 2009 bill to repeal the law, and the five other lawmakers urged Boehner not to defend DOMA in a joint statement released Friday.

“House Leadership has a unique opportunity to move forward rather than clinging to the past, and we urge them to do so. A decision not to defend DOMA would honor and respect all American families and would harm no one. Despite some claims to the contrary, that decision would also support states' rights by respecting and treating equally the lawful marriages of each and every state.”

The lawmakers added that they supported the president in his decision to no longer defend the Clinton-era law.

“Based on the lack of any reasonable arguments that justify the harm that DOMA imposes on loving gay and lesbian couples, DOJ correctly concluded that Section 3 of the law violates the Constitution.”

“It has been 15 years since the Congress enacted DOMA, and the myths and stereotypes used to support its enactment have been shattered. Married gay and lesbian couples pay taxes, serve their communities, struggle to balance work and family, raise children and care for aging parents like other Americans. Their contributions and needs are no different than anyone else's. The majority of Americans understand this and now support extending the time-honored tradition of marriage to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.”