Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on
Thursday filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs challenging
the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law
that bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the
legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
The filing is supported by 132 House
Democrats, including Representatives Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn,
Jerrold Nadler, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jared
Polis and David Cicilline.
The brief argues that Congress acted
hastily in approving DOMA.
“When Congress enacted DOMA in 1996,
gay and lesbian couples could not marry anywhere in the world.
Bowers v. Hardwick was still good law, inviting discrimination
as a means of expressing moral disapproval of lesbians and gay men.
In this atmosphere, many were reluctant to speak openly about
themselves or their families,” the
lawmakers' brief reads.
“DOMA's proponents capitalized on
this, portraying the possibility of same-sex couples joining in
marriage as a concerted attack by 'homosexual extremists' on
heterosexual marriage and exhorting Congress to act quickly to
preempt this possibility.”
The brief was filed in two cases being
heard in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
The filing makes it clear that the
House is divided on the issue. House Speaker John Boehner, a
Republican from Ohio, has authorized up to $1.5 million to defend the
law in court.