House Republicans plan to defend DOMA

March 4, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) House Speaker John Boehner said on Friday (March 4)
that he and fellow lawmakers will defend the Defense of Marriage Act
after the Obama administration dropped its support for the law last
month.


"The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the
courts -- not by the president unilaterally -- and this action by the
House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with
our Constitution," said Boehner, R-Ohio.


Attorney General Eric Holder told Boehner last month that President
Obama considers the 1996 law that defines marriage as solely between a
man and a woman to be unconstitutional.


Boehner said he would convene a bipartisan legal advisory group to
defend DOMA. That group, under House rules, is authorized to instruct
the office of the House General Counsel to do legal work for the House.


Boehner's decision comes a day after Catholic, Protestant and Sikh
leaders pushed Congress to defend DOMA.


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of
Evangelicals and the U.S. branch of the World Sikh Council said in a
joint letter that Obama's decision to stop defending DOMA, as the law is
known, "has undermined the rule of law and the separation of powers."


"The American people do not want their wishes being overruled by the
judiciary -- or the executive," they wrote.


Signatories to the letter also include executives of the Southern
Baptist Convention, the Anglican Church in North America and the
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.