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U.S. House approves amendment reaffirming DOMA

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Thursday, May 10, 2012

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted late Wednesday night in favor of a measure that aims to stop the Obama administration from taking any action in violation of the Defense of Marriage Act — even though the administration continues to enforce the law.

In a 245-171 vote, House lawmakers approved the amendment, introduced by freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), as part of Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations legislation. The amendment reads, “None of the funds made available under this Act, may be used in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the amendment in effect does nothing because although the Justice Department is no longer defending DOMA in court, the Obama administration is still enforcing it.

“The Huelskamp Amendment is a solution in search of a problem,” Thompson said. “While there are multiple legal challenges to DOMA working their way through the federal courts, it is still binding. This amendment serves absolutely no purpose other than to score political points at the expense of gay and lesbian couples.”

After the Obama administration declared DOMA unconstitutional, the Justice Department filed legal briefs against the anti-gay law and sent Justice Department attorneys to argue against the statute in court during oral arguments. However, the administration continues to enforce the statute, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

According to Roll Call newspaper, Huelskamp had initially planned an amendment that would barred the use of funds for arguing against DOMA in court — which, if passed into law, would have had real impact. Huelskamp ultimately didn’t press forward with that amendment.

Huelskamp reportedly said he introduced the amendment not only because the Justice Department stopped defending DOMA in court, but also because of Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of same-sex marriage Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The most immediate reason was the comments of the vice president of the United States,” Huelskamp was quoted as saying. “Stating his position is fine, but you tie that together with the issues with the lawsuit in California in which, essentially, the attorney general walked away from DOMA and said, ‘I’m not going to defend that.’”

Although the amendment passed on largely a party-line basis, seven Republicans voted “no”: Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), and Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.). 16 Democrats voted for the measure.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said House Republicans “voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America’s families.”

“House Republicans continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history,” Hammill said. “Republican leaders refuse to bring up a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes critical domestic violence protections for the LGBT community, and Speaker Boehner continues his legal boondoggle to use taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act in court, including cases involving the families of our men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces.”

Hammill added, “These discriminatory actions only serve to advance fundamental unfairness in our society and are against the principles of liberty and equality that our country is built upon.”

© Washington Blade. Reprinted by permission.

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27 more reader comments:

  1. So don’t tell us we have to register for selective service.

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:26am
  2. GOP fuktards
    I thought one of their “guiding principles” was less government in peoples lives? Why do they keep injecting themselves into MY marriage? Hypocrites and fuktards, thats what they are!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:27am
  3. Of course they did . . . LOL

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:28am
  4. Bob said it best

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:28am
  5. and the GOP says President Obama is dividing America.

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:28am
  6. For my own education: in what way is Obama enforcing DOMA?

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:30am
  7. How reactionary!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:31am
  8. Marti, not reactionary — obstructionist!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:32am
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    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:32am
  10. Assholes

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:32am
  11. Yeah, I don’t think I can top Bob either! ;-)

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:32am
  12. Wow…..creepy much? Could they please just get a flippin life and get their heads out of the gutter…. seriously! Who else in this country obsesses over what other people do in their bedrooms 24-7, for pete’s sake!…..It’s really getting creepy and we have far more important things that really need the attention of Congress like the economy, crumbling infrastructure and bringing troops home. Sheesh!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:36am
  13. Damn these friggin republicasses all to hell!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:39am
  14. What the idiots who vote for this bs fail to realize is that, by legalizing same-sex marriage they are opening up an avenue of more income for the government. They make money off of heterosexual marriage, why would letting LGBT people marry be any different?

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:42am
  15. One way to alienate a voting block of LGBT’s, youth, indies, missing anyone?

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:43am
  16. “16 Democrats voted for the measure.” I would like to know who these Dems are, please.

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:44am
  17. The article title is misleading, and the amendment has little affect.

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:52am
  18. Frank, I think the point is, with ALL the Actual REAL issues that need addressing they managed to get this done so efficiently…

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:55am
  19. come election time its our turn to show what we are made of __ to my glbt’s ~~~ Please get registered & get out at election time lets stand together and vote these idiots out of office

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:56am
  20. The sixteen Democrats supporting the amendment were: John Barrow (GA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Ben Chandler (KY), Jerry Costello (IL), Mark Critz (PA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Tim Holden (PA), Larry Kissell (NC), Dan Lipinski (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), Nick Rahall, (WV), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC).

    Here you are!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:04pm
  21. Ya know i was going to vote romney till today. im voting all democrat in this election

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:07pm
  22. The house is gonna come tumbling down.

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:11pm
  23. Statistics on Euqality under the Constitution:

    Obama +4, Congress – 120

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:13pm
  24. does the current congress do anything for the American people !! or only against ??

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:58pm
  25. How come it isn’t easy to prove that such actions are discriminatory? How come our leaders can keep fighting against equality? I could have sworn this was the land of the FREE!!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 1:09pm
  26. That is BS

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 1:16pm
  27. We have a chance to clean house this year, there are elephants in the room VOTE THEM OUT!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 3:44pm