Six House Democrats behind the effort
to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have asked House Speaker
John Boehner for a briefing on efforts to defend the law in court.
A Boehner-appointed committee last
month instructed House counsel to defend the law that bans federal
recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian couples after
President Barack Obama announced his administration would no longer do so.
The lead sponsors of New York
Representative Jerrold Nadler's Respect for Marriage Act, a
bill that would repeal DOMA, asked
Boehner for answers in a letter released Monday.
“As Members of Congress who have long
agreed that DOMA is unconstitutional, we do not support the continued
defense of this law in the courts,” the Democrats wrote. “[We]
sincerely hope that you will work with us to repeal the law rather
than prolong it through litigation.”
The lawmakers asked Boehner to brief
interested House members before an approaching April 18, 2011 filing
deadline for a New York case challenging the law.
“Among other things, we are
interested in a status report on who will be representing the House,
estimates regarding the cost and length of proposed litigation
efforts, the anticipated role of the House in litigation (i.e.,
intervenor or amicus curiae), and your assessment regarding the
likelihood of success on the merits. If you or House General Counsel
already have arranged for representation by outside counsel, we would
welcome and appreciate their participation in this briefing.”
In addition to Nadler, the letter is
signed by Congress' four openly gay members – Representatives
Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Jared
Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island – and
Representative John Conyers of Michigan.