Boehner says Congress likely to defend DOMA


WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner says Congress likely will defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court and that a decision might take place by the "end of the week."

Boehner made his comments to CBN's David Brody Feb. 27, four days after the Department of Justice announced that President Obama had ordered it not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

"[I]f the president won't lead, if the president won't defend DOMA, then you'll see the House of Representatives defend our actions in passing a bill that frankly passed overwhelmingly," Boehner said. "... We'll be talking to the members in the next few days about that and I expect we'll have a decision by the end of the week."

The current lawsuits in federal court are aimed only at DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage in federal law. However, Obama has said he opposes the entire act, including the portion that gives states the option of not recognizing another state's "gay marriages." If DOMA is reversed, then all 50 states likely would be forced to recognize "gay marriage."

Obama will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act
Christian Examiner staff report
WASHINGTON, D.C.  —  The Obama administration announced that it will cease defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law, and clarifies that no state has to recognize a homosexual marriage from another state.

DOMA was passed in 1996 by bi-partisan majorities and signed into law by President Clinton and is currently being challenged in the courts.

Attorney General Eric Holder said February 23 that President Obama has instructed that the defense of DOMA should be withdrawn in two pending cases, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management (United States District Court for the District of Connecticut) and Windsor v. United States of America (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York).

These cases challenge Section 3 of the federal DOMA, which defines marriage as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law and federal benefits for federal employees.

"Regardless of President Obama's own ideological agenda, as President, he and his Attorney General have a duty to defend lawfully passed legislation, especially when the essence of the law has been upheld by many courts. Thirty states have passed marriage amendments affirming marriage as one man and one woman," said Matthew Staver, Liberty Counsel.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Holder stated that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a "significant history of purposeful discrimination."

"But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court, said Holder.

Marriage as a male-female union has been successfully defended in court according to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. "There is absolutely no excuse beyond pandering to his liberal political base for President Obama's decision to abandon his constitutional role to defend a federal law enacted overwhelmingly by Congress," said Perkins.

"With this decision the President has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress. It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the President's neglect of duty," concluded Perkins.

On the heels of the Obama administration's announcement, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that she will introduce legislation that will "once and for all" repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. "I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.  It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed," said Feinstein.

The president is required by federal law to file a report to Congress within 30 days to explain the administration's decision not to defend the law.

Since the Department of Justice has abdicated its defense of a standing law the House or the Senate has the legal authority to intervene in pending lawsuits to defend the federal DOMA statute.

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