House Republicans retaliated for President Obama's pro-marriage stance by passing a bill late Wednesday that would hamstring the administration when trying speak out against the Defense of Marriage Act.
Politico reports that by a vote of 245-171, the House attached an amendment to funding for the Department of Justice, barring it from using any taxpayer money to oppose DOMA in court.
The administration had already stopped defending DOMA, leaving that instead to House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner. In October, Boehner and House Republican leadership increased their budget for advocating DOMA in court from $500,000 to $1.5 million.
When President Obama came out for marriage equality Wednesday, he said legalization should remain a state issue. DOMA protects states where same-sex marriage isn't legal from having to recognize marriages of those residents wed in states where it is legal. So a couple married in New York are no longer considered married if they move to neighboring New Jersey, for example.
DOMA also bars the federal government from recognizing any same-sex couple married in any state, which has a cascade of tax code effects. Businesses such as Google and others have said it creates wasteful bureaucracy that is a burden on their bottom line.
A spokesman for House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the $1.5 million cap “absolutely unconscionable” in October. Today Drew Hammill said, according to Politico, that Republicans had acted "in the dark of night" and "continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history.”
Ian Thompson, senior legislative assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the amendment "is a solution in search of a problem. While there are multiple legal challenges to DOMA working their way through the federal courts, it is still binding. This amendment serves absolutely no purpose other than to score political points at the expense of gay and lesbian couples.”