After US President Barack Obama asked the Justice Department not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in courts last year, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives stepped in.
It’s a political decision that has come with a hefty price tag.
The Republicans have so far spent nearly $1.5 million defending DOMA and have lost the most previous five of the 14 cases they have chosen to intervene on, according a report released Tuesday (16 October) by the Democrats on the House Administration Committee.
House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which took over the legal defense of DOMA, are close to spending all of the $1.5 million in a current contract with legal counsel that is representing the government in court.
After Obama decided to no longer defend DOMA, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner made a formal request for the Supreme Court to hear appeals of DOMA.
‘For more than a year, Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans have committed valuable taxpayer dollars to defending discrimination and preserving inequality, only to lose case after case,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. ‘It is time for the Speaker and Congressional Republicans to drop their frivolous, taxpayer-funded lawsuits without any delay. When they do, we will all look forward to the day when DOMA is relegated to the dustbin of history once and for all.’
In 1996, DOMA passed the US 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, and the District of Columbia.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to ever be appointed to the US Supreme Court, said last month that she expects the high court to hear a DOMA case before the end of the current term.