(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner sent a strong message Thursday authorizing the continued use of taxpayer funds to defend a federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
In February 2011, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in various court challenges across the country. Boehner subsequently announced that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) would take over the defense of the law. BLAG is comprised of five members of the House leadership. The Republican majority tapped lawyer Paul Clement to lead the effort.
On Thursday, House Republicans included DOMA language in the Opening Day Rules package authorizing the continued use of taxpayer funds.
The proposed language reads: “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. ”
Windsor v. United States refers to a challenge to DOMA that will be heard by the Supreme Court sometime this spring.
A spokesman for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responded: “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.”
In the statement spokesman Drew Hammill said, “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.”
DOMA passed in 1996 with strong majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Michael Steel, a spokesperson for Boehner, said in a statement Thursday: “We continue to believe the constitutionality of the law should be judged by the court, not the president unilaterally–and will provide the resources needed to protect our system of checks and balances.”
When the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case last month it specified that it wanted to hear arguments on whether BLAG has the legal right — or “standing” — to participate.
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