On Friday, 29 June, the Washington Blade reported Speaker of the House John Boehner made a formal request for the Supreme Court to hear appeals of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
‘Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the Washington Blade on Friday afternoon Republicans had notified Democratic leadership that House counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court,’ the newspaper wrote.
In 1996, DOMA passed Congress and was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. The law keeps the US government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in states where gay marriage is legal. Couples cannot file joint federal tax returns or receive survivor benefits. Presently same sex marriage is only legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington State and the District of Columbia.
Last year, President Barack Obama informed the Justice Department not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in courts. If a president does not defend a law, the House of Representatives may do so.
The cases Boehner wants the Supreme Court, the highest bench on the country, to hear are Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services.
At the end of May, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston found DOMA violated the equal protection guarantee of the US Constitution.
‘Only this Court can settle this matter definitively,” the speaker’s filing said. ‘Unless and until this Court decides the question, the executive branch will continue to attack DOMA in the courts, while continuing to enforce it, thus creating more potential litigation for the House to defend. This Court and this Court alone has the power to settle this question and redirect controversy over this important national question to the democratic process.’