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 court.

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.