House GOP Hires Lawyer to Prevent Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

Since the Obama Administration said it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) House Republicans have resorted to hiring George W. Bush’s former Solicitor General to defend the 1996 law declaring that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Paul Clement has appeared before the Supreme Court several times including an appearance to defend Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from a challenge by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The foundation argued that the faith-based initiative violated the Establishment Clause by using taxpayer money to fund religious-based organizations.

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown applauded the selection of Clement:

At last we have a legal eagle on this case who actually wants to win in court! Thanks to Speaker Boehner’s actions, President Obama’s attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to work. Speaker Boehner is also quite right that the money to defend DOMA should be deducted from the Justice Department’s budget, since they will be doing the job DOJ should have done, but refused to do.

Rep. John Boehner’s request to use DOJ money to defend DOMA isn’t a done deal. He’s sent a letter asking for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s help in reallocating the money, but she shot back a letter asking how much it would cost. Previously, she had said: “No institutional purpose is served by having the House of Representatives intervene in this litigation which will consume 18 months or longer. As we noted, the constitutionality of this statute will be determined by the Courts, regardless of whether the House chooses to intervene.”

If the Senate doesn’t approve the reallocation, and Pres. Obama rejects it, Boehner might not get the money he’s looking for—so much of Boehner’s moves to placate the anti-marriage equality crowd remain up in the air.

The first case Boehner wants his new attorney to tackle is Windsor v. United States which involves a lesbian couple who had been together 44 years before Thea Spyer died. Edie Windsor complained that DOMA makes her a second class citizen and criticized Boehner for seeking to keep her one: “I am very disappointed that the House of Representatives has decided to intervene in my case in order to try to prevent me from obtaining a refund of the $363,000 in estate taxes that I should never have had to pay in the first place.”

The Human Rights Campaign agreed: “Not only are House Republican leaders defending the indefensible, they’ve brought in a high priced attorney to deny federal recognition to loving, married couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Speaker Boehner appears ready to go to great lengths, and the great expense of a high-power law firm, to try to score some cheap political points on the backs of same-sex couples.”

I suppose Boehner can pander to the religious right and continue to defend “traditional” marriage, but I think it’s fair to ask why—when jobless rates continue to hover near 10 percent—which issue may be most important to God: how people arrange their intimate relationships, or how we feed and care for those families?