A Massachusetts federal court has turned down a request from attorneys representing gay troops to move up the deadline for House Republicans to intervene in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.
In a message Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns denied the request from plaintiffs in the case of McLaughlin v. Panetta for an April 20 deadline for attorneys representing the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to intervene.
“ELECTRONIC ORDER entered denying  Motion to Set a Deadline for seeking intervention in this case,” the message states. “In light of the current posture of the case, the court sees no reason to set such a deadline.”
The lawsuit, McLaughlin v. United States, was filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network before the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts in October on behalf of gay troops seeking benefits for their spouses. Chadbourne & Parke LLP is serving as pro-bono counsel in the case.
On Wednesday, plaintiffs filed a motion to impose an earlier deadline for House Republicans to intervene in the case. As it stands, the deadline for intervention is set for April 28.
David McKean, SLDN’s legal director, said even though the court denied the request, he expects BLAG attorneys in the case to intervene on behalf of DOMA.
“While we were hoping to expedite BLAG’s decision to intervene or not, we nonetheless expect that the Speaker’s attorneys will seek to intervene shortly and the case will move forward once the stay is lifted on April 28,” McKean said.
The Obama administration last year stopped defending DOMA in court, but the House, under the direction of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took up defense of the law after BLAG voted on a 3-2 party line basis to defend the statute in the administration’s stead. Boehner’s attorneys are expected to intervene in the McLaughlin case as they’ve done with other cases.