Pelosi: What’s the Price Tag on Defending DOMA?

Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner this week asking for an estimate on how much the House will spend defending Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act that President Obama will no longer defend because it is, based on the DOJ’s own review, unconstitutional.

In the rather pointed letter, Pelosi asks Boehner how much it is going to cost the House to hire a team of private attorneys as part of the Republican leadership’s much lauded defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. She also questions the need for the House to intervene when the economy and job creation should, she says, be their focus, and also touches on the fact that the vote undertaken this week by the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to enable defense of the law involved all three Republican members outflanking the two Democratic dissenters, making it anything but bipartisan.

Pelosi’s letter appears below

Dear Mr. Speaker:

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) voted this week by a 3-2 margin to direct the House General Counsel to initiate a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As you know, the Democratic members of the BLAG voted against directing the House Counsel to initiate the costly defense of a statute which many believe to be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause.

While respecting the role of the BLAG to make such decisions, I disagree in this circumstance because of the number of cases, at least 10. There are numerous parties who will continue to litigate these ongoing cases regardless of the involvement of the House. No institutional purpose is served by having the House of Representatives intervene in this litigation which will consume 18 months or longer. As we noted, the constitutionality of this statute will be determined by the Courts, regardless of whether the House chooses to intervene.

The resolution passed by the BLAG also directs the House General Counsel to hire private lawyers rather than utilize his own office to represent the House. The General Counsel indicated that he lacked the personnel and the budget to absorb those substantial litigation duties. It is important that the House receive an estimate of the cost to taxpayers for engaging private lawyers to intervene in the pending DOMA cases. It is also important that the House know whether the BLAG, the General Counsel, or a Committee of the House have the responsibility to monitor the actions of the outside lawyers and their fees.

The American people want Congress to be working on the creation of jobs and ensuring the continued progress of our economic recovery rather than involving itself unnecessarily in such costly and divisive litigation.

Thank you for your responses to these questions concerning the cost and oversight of the litigation as it proceeds through the courts.

best regards,


Democratic Leader

Boehner has decried the Obama Administration’s decision not to defend Section 3 of DOMA, saying that the President is playing a game of politics. Critics of Boehner accuse him of much the same in so vocally championing a defense of the law.

Take Action: Tell Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Jack Newton.


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Vote all republicans out of office in every state at every opportunity.

Don Go
Don Go7 years ago

I don't see anything wrong with Obama deciding not to defend it. He won't grow agressive as to not anger those who find it to be constitutional, but he wont defend it either so that people who have the freedom and initiative can work to get it.

Jane R.
Jane R7 years ago

Reading all the comments posted left me without anything to add.

Mark Alan D.

Hey, Hey, Hey, I think most of us missed the key point here - Boehner is CREATING JOBS! The article states quite clearly, "the House (is) to hire a team of private attorneys as part of the Republican leadership's much lauded defense of the Defense of Marriage Act." This means that several out-of-work, high-priced attorneys will be getting contracted temp jobs defending DOMA. Even more interestingly, these attorneys will no doubt go from unemployed all the way into the upper most 2% of wage earners and receive their discounted tax rate, which they can then invest their tax savings in further jobs creation. Boehner must be some sort of Forrest Gumpian certifiable genius.

joan grandy
.7 years ago

looking over the postings one would guess the subject matter is more than "disturbing" Lots of opinions, some well thought out, some stupid!!! Won,t be settled for some time to come...too many variances, not enough facts on participants involved.....

Tim L.
Tim L7 years ago

Defending marriage, what a total waste of tax payer money in these awful economic times. If your marriage requires the defense of the US government, then guess what? Your marriage is already dead, so move on. In this country, everyone is supposed to be equal; therefore, gays should have the same rights as the bigoted, bible thumping crowd. To deny the right of marriage to anyone, simply because they don't adhere to the right wing concept of an appropriate couple, is unconstitutional.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jerome K.
Jerome K.7 years ago

I honestly believe gays can't help who they are. They were born that way. Is it a genetic mutation or something? Until
science finds the exact reason everything is an opinion. To
some people being that way scares them just like Lepars used
to in older times. How about people born with without some of their limbs? Should they be abused? One can give someone artificial limbs. I guess an artificial male or female may help
them who are stuck in those roles but not in body. It still would
be only a contract. It would help the economy as many would get divorced and Lawyers need the extra jobs. Support money for the spouse would be kind of difficult however. They would want children and would have to be adopted or from a sperm doner. The question is who knows if a young child is ready for homosexual parents. How would they understand
about straight marriage and relationships? It is not likely the majority is ready to make that decision when it comes to orphan children. Thus the best thing to do is make the best of your life right now as it is short.

Warm Regards,

Janice L.
Janice Lawrence7 years ago

It's just insane to go on "defending" DOMA when the economy is suffering! The Rethuglicans said that they wanted to get the economy going again and instead they're wasting time and money banging on about this silly mess.

Lynnette Bower
Lynnette Bower7 years ago

Kind of reminds me of Animal Farm.... Some are more equal than others.