Just hours after President Obama announced his support for marriage equality the US House advanced an amendment that would bar the Department of Justice from using tax payer funds to fight the Defense of Marriage Act.
The move saw 16 Democrats join 229 Republicans in voting to shore up the ailing Defense of Marriage Act by amending the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill.
“It is not President Obama’s prerogative to decide which laws matter and which do not, nor his right to challenge constitutional amendments duly passed by the various states,” said the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.).
“The Justice Department is duty-bound to enforce DOMA and to not do so is a flagrant disregard for the Constitution and for the rule of law.”
Democrats immediately attacked Republicans for the vote.
“On an historic day and in the dark of night, House Republicans have voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America’s families,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said in a statement. “House Republicans continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history.”
This, critics have said, is a political move that actually has little bite because Obama, while declining to defend DOMA in court, has always maintained the administration must keep enforcing the law for as long as it is on the books.
Ian Thompson, senior legislative assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the amendment “is a solution in search of a problem. While there are multiple legal challenges to DOMA working their way through the federal courts, it is still binding. This amendment serves absolutely no purpose other than to score political points at the expense of gay and lesbian couples.”
It is of course ironic for the GOP to champion this amendment when the Republican House leadership has contracted to pay up to, and potentially more than, $1.5 million of tax payer money to defend the Defense of Marriage in court. House Speaker Boehner has repeatedly said that this money would come from “defunding” the DOJ, but this has not happened.
The House is currently funding the defense of 12 separate DOMA cases, at least two of which are on appeal after a lower federal court found DOMA to be unconstitutional.
As for which Democratic legislators voted for this amendment, they are as follows:
- Rep. John Barrow (D-GA)
- Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
- Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK)
- Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY6)
- Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL)
- Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA12)
- Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
- Rep. Mike McIntyre (D – NC, 7th District)
- Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT)
- Rep. Daniel Lapinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Larry Kissell (D – NC, 8th District)
- Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA)
- Rep. Collin Peterson [D-MN7]
- Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)
- Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR)
- Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC)
And the following Republicans crossed party lines against the amendment:
- Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)
- Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
- Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY)
- Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH14)
- Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA41)
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL18)
- Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE-2)