WASHINGTON — House GOP leadership took a key step this week that will allow it to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman
A panel made up of Democratic and Republican House leaders, called the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), directed the House general counsel to defend the law, following President Obama’s announcement that his administration would no longer defend the statute against litigation.
“After consultation with the Bipartisan Leadership Advisory Group, the House General Counsel has been directed to initiate a legal defense of this law,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
“This action by the House will ensure that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally,” Boehner said.
Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) voted in favor of directing counsel to defend the statute, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted against the action.
On Feb. 23, the Obama administration announced that at least one part of DOMA — Section 3 — will not be able to pass constitutional muster, and that the Justice Department will not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in the federal court.
The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.