Republicans Defend DOMA on First Day of 113th Congress

Photo: Sree Vishnu

Photo: Sree Vishnu

House Republicans authorized the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) Wednesday night to continue paying outside counsel to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against legally married same-sex couples.

HuffPost obtained a copy of the draft language, which is expected to pass the full House on Thursday when the 113th Congress begins:

(1) CONTINUING AUTHORITY FOR THE BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP.(A) The House authorizes the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 113th Congress –

(i) to act as successor in interest to the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 112th Congress with respect to civil actions in which it intervened in the 112th Congress to defend the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (1 U.S.C. 7) or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code, including in the case of Windsor v. United States, 833 F. Supp.2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. June 6, 2012), aff’d, 699 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. Oct. 18, 2012), cert. granted, No. 12–307 (Dec. 7, 2012), cert. pending No. 12–63 (July 16, 2012) and 12-ll (Dec.___2012);

(ii) to take such steps as may be appropriate to ensure continuation of such civil actions; and

(iii) to intervene in other cases that involve a challenge to the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code.

(B) Pursuant to clause 8 of rule II, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group continues to speak for, and articulate the institutional position of, the House in all litigation matters in which it appears, including in Windsor v. United States.

“Today, House Republicans will send a clear message to LGBT families: their fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future,” said Drew Hammill, spokesman for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  “Republicans will take the extraordinary measure of including an authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives and by doing so, continue to spend taxpayer funds, already adding up to $1.7 million, in their attempts to defend this shameful law in federal courts and the Supreme Court.”

Hammill concluded, “Additionally, for the first time in the House Rules, the Republican leadership has decided to include an explicit acknowledgement that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) ‘continues to speak for, and articulate the institutional position of, the House in all litigation matters in which it appears…’ As House Democrats have time and time again made clear, the BLAG does not speak for all Members of the House of Representatives and we will continue to oppose this wasteful use of taxpayer funds to defend DOMA.”

“It’s truly disheartening that, on a day of new beginnings on Capitol Hill, the leadership of the House of Representatives is advancing a measure, through its rules, to continue spending taxpayer dollars on expensive lawyers to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry.

He added, “This law has been struck down as unconstitutional 10 times, with support from judges appointed by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes. It’s past time for the Republican leadership to listen to their constituents, a majority of whom support the freedom to marry, and stop wasting precious resources in an effort to treat fellow Americans as second-class citizens.”