House lawyers under the direction of Speaker John Boehner arguing in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) say gay men and lesbians are politically powerful and influential, the AP reported.

Because of this power, gay people do not meet the legal criteria for groups such as racial minorities and women who receive heightened protection from discrimination, the lawyers argued in a filing Friday in San Francisco's U.S. District Court.

DOMA was put in place by Congress in 1996 and bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Citing increasing support for openly gay elected officials, the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York, and the September 20 end of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the policy that banned openly gay military service, the lawyers argued that “gays and lesbians cannot be labeled 'politically powerless' without draining that phrase of all meaning.”

The legal wrangling is the latest move in the ongoing case of Karen Golinski, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lawyer who sued the government after her employer denied health insurance coverage to her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The U.S. Office of Personnel (OPM) argues that DOMA blocks such benefits.

Boehner appointed and led a committee that instructed House counsel to defend the law in court after the Obama administration announced it would no longer do so. The president has said he believes the law that bans federal recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.

In July, the Justice Department sided with Golinski. In its 31-page filing, the agency argued that sexual orientation is an “immutable characteristic” and that DOMA serves no legitimate policy interest.

(Related: House lawyers nix recoding in DOMA challenge.)