WASHINGTON — A Republican-led House panel may intervene as soon as next week against litigation that aims to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds that it unfairly prohibits gay troops from obtaining benefits for their same-sex spouses.
The litigation, known as McLaughlin v. Panetta, was filed on behalf of gay troops and veterans by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne & Parke LLC. It’s pending before the District Court of Massachusetts.
Christopher Man, counsel at Chadbourne & Parke LLC, told the Blade via email on Saturday he believes the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, led by House Speaker John Boehner, is “likely to intervene soon, possibly as soon as next week” and plaintiffs will oppose the intervention.
The Justice Department sent notification to Congress last month that it wouldn’t defend DOMA in the McLaughlin case — keeping in line with President Obama’s determination last year that the anti-gay law was unconstitutional — as well as provisions in Title 10, Title 32, and Title 38 of the U.S. Code prohibiting gay troops from receiving benefits.
Boehner’s panel, which took on defense of DOMA last year following a 3-2 party-line vote in the administration’s stead, is already defending the statute in other cases challenging its constitutionality.
On Feb. 9, Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian in the New Hampshire National Guard and plaintiff in the gay troops’ lawsuit, met with Boehner’s staff to ask the Ohio Republican to stop defending DOMA in court, but was told he’ll likely continue defense of the law. She’s been diagnosed with stage-four incurable breast cancer and is seeking survivor benefits that are awarded to veterans in opposite-sex marriages for her spouse, Karen Morgan.