America Just Lost $1.5 Million to Bigotry
Does your purse feel a little lighter? If so, it might be because the House Republicans have almost maxed out their whopping $1.5 million budget to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal gay ban that yet another court has just ruled is unconstitutional.
Itemized details of the House’s spending reveals House Republicans dolled out $702,205.57 in 2011 and $745,791.16 in 2012, totaling $1,447,996.73, ensuring America is protected from the scourge of loving gay couples being able to have their marriages recognized by the federal government and therein access the more than 1,400 federal benefits they are currently denied.
You may remember the original DOMA defense budget of a still substantial $500,000 was tripled by the House Republican leadership last year and without a formal vote when it became apparent that defending DOMA was going to take more spending power than Republicans had thought.
Needless to say, House Democrats are mostly furious about this, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi saying in a statement:
“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 in their effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. There is nothing effective or efficient about this utter abuse of the people’s trust or the public purse; it is simply wasteful and wrong, and Americans deserve better.
“It is unconscionable for Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders, including Chairman Dan Lungren who authorized the contracts with the outside law firm, to continue to stand on the wrong side of history at taxpayer expense. Yet, rather than join Democrats to create jobs and strengthen the middle class, Republicans refuse to abandon their reprehensible fight to deny basic civil rights and justice to an entire group of their fellow Americans.
“The American people should no longer have to foot the bill for Speaker Boehner’s campaign to appease the most conservative forces within the Republican Party. 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.”
The Obama administration in February 2011 took the decision that, after careful review, it could no longer defend as constitutionally sound Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, though it would keep enforcing the law as it is so obligated. The administration has since filed on behalf of plaintiffs challenging DOMA.
The Republican House leadership took up defense of the law and so contracted an outside legal team headed by Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general under the Bush administration, to defend in court that the Defense of Marriage Act is a viable and constitutional act of Congress.
DOMA Defense: What You Are Getting For Your Money
In defending the law, the House’s legal team, known as BLAG, has been heavily criticized for using every tired argument in the book.
Not only this, but Paul Clement’s team has seized on a recent and demonstrably flawed study about gay parenting to try and bolster their arguments.
Clement’s team has also been accused by a researcher of distorting her findings in order to support their contention that same-sex parent families are detrimental to children and therein that there is a legitimate government interest in maintaining a same-sex marriage ban.
Throughout the entire process, House Speaker Boehner has refused to disclose where exactly he is drawing the DOMA defense money from, his earlier contention that he would defund the DOJ for the appropriate amount having been proved untenable.
So far, the House has lost all five cases in which it has defended the law — so, clearly, this has been money well spent.
DOMA Is Ruled Unconstitutional (Again)
On Thursday, a Manhattan federal appeals court for the Second Circuit joined the First Circuit in finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, saying that the law broke the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection when it mandated that 81-year-old Edith Windsor be treated as a legal stranger for the purpose of estate tax, causing her to have to pay a heavy premium on the estate she had shared with her same-sex spouse.
Bigotry Just Cost You $1.5 Million, And It’s About To Cost You More
Readers may be interested to know that the $1.5 million ceiling set by the Republican House leadership always came with a caveat — further spending was negotiable at the time the cap was reached.
Given that there are now several DOMA cases either waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to take up in November of this year or climbing their way to the SCOTUS as we speak, it seems unlikely House Republicans will back down at this juncture.
Well, at least Boehner’s managed to create some jobs for his lawyers.
Image credit: Thinkstock.