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House Defense of DOMA

Per the Corner, Speaker Boehner has announced that the House of Representatives will defend the Defense of Marriage Act. But if he does so, as his statement suggests, merely via action of the 5-member House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, I think that he’d be making a big mistake. He ought instead to have a resolution voted on by the entire House membership that would authorize the defense and (as I’ve previously proposed) state a clear intent to reduce DOJ appropriations by some multiple of the amount (or at least the amount itself) expended on outside counsel.

Such a resolution would achieve two things:

1. It would put current House members on the record on DOMA.

In 1996, House members voted for DOMA by a 342-67 margin. Republicans supported it 224 to 1, and Democrats 118 to 65. Let’s see where current members stand.

(The vote in the Senate was 85-14, with supporters including such folks as Biden, Dodd, Harkin, Kohl, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Reid, Rockefeller, and Wellstone.)

2. A stated intent to reduce DOJ appropriations will both punish (or at least refuse to award) DOJ for its irresponsibility and protect House Republicans from media charges that they’re wasting taxpayer money by  retaining counsel to defend DOMA.

Ed Whelan

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