Religious Right Doubles Down on DOMA

Now that Pres. Obama has abandoned his administration’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, activists on both sides of the marriage equality fight are lobbying the only ones left to defend the act: Congress.

To defend “God’s design” for marriage, religious right outfits like the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the National Association of Evangelicals have circulated emails urging their supporters to urge Congress “to stand up for the Defense of Marriage Act by supporting a resolution that authorizes Congress to intervene in the ongoing litigation challenging DOMA.”

On the other side, the Human Rights Campaign and Get Equal are urging supporters to write their lawmakers to urge them “to focus on job creation, rather than on discrimination.”

The NAE underscores the urgency of requests from both sides:

Congress now has 30 days to decide whether it will defend DOMA in judicial lawsuits. The House of Representatives, the Senate, or both, can appoint legal counsel to defend DOMA in the courts. If Congress fails to do so, the judge’s ruling will stand.

Conservative legal firms are hoping if Congress acts that they will get the chance to be that appointed legal counsel:

”That’s what we’re pursuing,” said Mathew Staver, founder of the firm and dean of Liberty University School of Law. “Somebody has to step in and do the job when the attorney general and the president will abandon theirs.”

Liberty Counsel had filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two DOMA court cases and is now strategizing with members of Congress to intervene on their behalf to defend the law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

“It’s early in the process,” said Staver, whose firm has litigated dozens of cases related to marriage-including DOMA-and represented Congress, state legislators and private organizations on other issues.

“We’re still doing a lot of preliminary discussion.”

The prominent move on this issue by the NAE may be the organization’s opportunity to again look tough on the marriage issue. It’s dedication to “God’s design for marriage” was tested in 2008 when then NAE spokesman and VP for Government Affairs Richard Cizik resigned after revealing in an interview that his views on marriage equality were “shifting.”

”In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. I don’t officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don’t think.”

That sent NAE president Leith Anderson on a damage control mission to reassert the organization’s dedication to barring gays and lesbians from marriage:

The NAE’s position on gay marriage is not shifting. And we are not advocates for civil unions, although many evangelicals recognize the reality that civil unions have become law in many states. But we’re not advocating for them.

Whatever Pres. Obama’s reason for giving up a defense of DOMA, the one thing it seems to have done is reignite the religious right’s passion for the issue.