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
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.
lawyers nix recoding in DOMA challenge.)