House Republicans Drop DOMA Defense

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com July 18 2013 3:11 PM ET

Nearly a month after a decisive ruling from the Supreme Court declaring a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Republican-led congressional committee that's been defending the law in court announced today that it is abandoning its support for DOMA and legislation like it around the country. 

Lawyers for the Republican-led House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group announced Thursday that in light of the June 26 Supreme Court ruling in Windsor v. U.S., they are withdrawing their legal defense of DOMA, according to BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner

The announcement came as part of BLAG's latest filing in a federal case from Massachusetts that challenges the constitutionality of the military's statutory definition of spouse as "a person of the opposite sex" in Title 38 of the U.S. Code. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued Wednesday that the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA effectively decides the case in favor of their clients — a lesbian judge advocate general, Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, and her wife, Casey, — in the case brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne & Park.  

"The Supreme Court recently resolved the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality," wrote BLAG's attorneys, according to Geidner. "While the question of whether 38 U.S.C. § 101(3), (31) is constitutional remains open, the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute. Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant."

Controlled by House Republican leadership, BLAG repeatedly came under fire for spending close to $3 million of taxpayer money defending DOMA and similar statutes in various federal court cases around the nation. 

Today's announcement implies that BLAG will concurrently abandon its legal defense in each case regarding DOMA, state-level DOMAs, and the Title 38 of the U.S. Code, according to Geidner.