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.