U.S. House to Intervene in DOMA Defense
Special Report - March 15, 2011
Despite the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent announcement that it would no longer defend Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in two ongoing lawsuits, the battle to defend the law will continue, thanks to action by the U.S. House of Representatives. In a statement released on March 9, U.S. Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) said that the U.S. House would help defend DOMA from continuing legal challenges. “Today, after consultation with the Bipartisan Leadership Advisory Group, the House General Counsel has been directed to initiate a legal defense of this law,” Speaker Boehner wrote. “This action by the House will ensure that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally.”
Enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, DOMA defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman, and protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex “marriages” that are performed in states where the practice is legal. Over the years, homosexual activists groups have filed a number of lawsuits challenging DOMA’s constitutionality. On February 23, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a letter addressed to Speaker Boehner, announcing that the DOJ would no longer defend DOMA in two critical and ongoing lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States. Both lawsuits, which are before the 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, assert that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.
The DOJ letter stated, in part, that, “while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court.” At the same time, Attorney General Holder noted in the letter that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce Section 3 of DOMA, and that “the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 of DOMA, consistent with the Executive’s obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.”
In a statement released March 10, Brian Raum, Senior Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), applauded the action by the U.S. House. “The American people deserve to have their laws defended. The House has stepped up to the plate where the Department of Justice has shirked its responsibility,” said Raum. “The House of Representatives has the legal authority to intervene in these lawsuits to defend the federal DOMA statute. Even though Congress passed it with overwhelming bipartisan support, the DOJ won’t defend it. That means that a rigorous defense by Congress is the best possible option.”
Marriage Protection Amendment Filed - February 24, 2011
Majority Battle Rundown - February 2, 2011
Assault on Marriage Intensifies - November 12, 2010
ADF Petitions U.S. Supreme Court - October 15, 2010
Judge Says Federal DOMA Flawed - July 9, 2010
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