The House on Monday filed to intervene
in a New York case that challenges the constitutionality of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law that bans federal
recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
The move comes after President Barack
Obama announced he believes parts of the law are unconstitutional and
instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the law in
House Speaker John Boehner appointed
and led a committee that instructed the House counsel to pick up
where the administration had left off.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese criticized the move, which will be led by former Bush
administration Solicitor General Paul Clement, a partner in the
Washington, D.C. office of King & Spalding.
“Not only are House Republican
leaders defending the indefensible, they've brought in a high priced
attorney to deny federal recognition to loving, married couples,”
Solmonese said in a statement. “Speaker Boehner appears ready to
go to great lengths, and the great expense of a high-power law firm,
to try to score some cheap political points on the backs of same-sex
couples. King & Spalding were not required to take up this
defense and should be ashamed of associating themselves with an
effort to deny rights to their fellow citizens.”
The House will defend the law in a New
York case in which Edith “Edie” Windsor received an estate tax
bill of more than $360,000 after the death of her wife Thea Spyer.
The two women shared their lives for 44 years and married in Canada
in 2007, and were considered married in their home state of New York.
Spyer died in 2009.
In at least two federal rulings, courts
have declared portions of DOMA unconstitutional.
Earlier on Monday, Boehner
said he wanted to defray the costs of defending the law by cutting
the Justice Department's funding.