Lead sponsors of a measure to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, including all of the openly gay members of Congress, have spoken out against House speaker John Boehner's plan to defend DOMA in court, even though President Obama and the Justice Department have ceased doing so.
"The President correctly concluded last week that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court -- nor should the House of Representatives," said a joint statement issued Friday by House members Tammy Baldwin, David Cicilline, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Jerrold Nadler, and Jared Polis. "In the 15 years since the passage of DOMA, the harmful stereotypes used to justify this law have been shattered. There simply is no legitimate reason for denying committed gay and lesbian couples the legal security, rights and responsibilities that marriage provides."
Boehner announced Friday that he planned to convene a meeting of the Bipartisan House Legal Advisory Group to initiate a defense of DOMA, the 15-year-old law that prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states not to recognize such unions performed in other states. A court has found the federal section of the law unconstitutional, and while the decision is on appeal, Obama and the Justice Department are declining to take part in the law's defense. The law remains in effect until it is struck down in court or repealed by Congress.
Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank, and Polis -- the four openly gay members of Congress -- and straight allies Conyers and Nadler also said they plan soon to reintroduce legislation to repeal DOMA. "The President has long urged Congress to overturn this discriminatory law and we intend to do so," their statement said. "We look forward to working with Members and advocates from across the country and the political spectrum to rid our nation of this historical stain."