Dems to John Boehner: Your Lawyer Is "Unreasonable"

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com September 26 2011 1:30 PM ET

Democratic lawmakers don't like the "harmful and unreasonable arguments" being used by House speaker John Boehner's lawyer to keep the Defense of Marriage Act on the books.

A contingent from Congress, including all four of the gay members, wrote to Boehner demanding a chance to confront the lawyer with what they say is "discredited" and "biased" research on homosexuality that was used in a legal brief representing Congress in court.

DOMA prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to ignore such unions when performed in other states. Lawyer Paul Clement, hired by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives to defend the law, has argued that it's allowable because gay people are inferior parents, being gay is a choice, and LGBT people aren't regularly victims of discrimination and so they shouldn't be a protected class.

House Republican leadership opted to pay for a legal defense of DOMA after President Obama decided in February that it was an indefensible law because it violates the Constitution. The first firm Boehner hired backed out after it was criticized for siding with DOMA, but Clement decided to leave and take the case with him to Bancroft PLLC.

Now several Democrats — Tammy Baldwin, David Cicilline, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Jerrold Nadler, and Jared Polis — say Clement doesn't represent them or even the scientists he cites in his legal arguments.

"It is incumbent upon all lawyers — especially those paid for by taxpayers and responsible for representing a branch of our government — to undertake representation in an objective manner that is factually and legally supportable," they wrote to Boehner. "Unfortunately, the outside counsel that you have retained have filed pleadings containing arguments and assertions that are troubling and appear to fall short of this standard."

They cite, for example, professor Lisa Diamond's complaint that Boehner's lawyer has "completely misrepresented my research." A lot has changed since DOMA was passed 15 years ago, they say, but Clement's ideas on why it should remain "do not withstand the test of time or scrutiny."

The representatives are asking Boehner, for the second time, to grant them a briefing about the case so they can hear more about a court strategy they say isn't based in fact.