The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill to prevent the Obama Administration from taking legal action against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage.
“As many of us know, just last night the 30th state passed an amendment to amend its constitution to protect traditional marriage,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), who offered the amendment, said. “That would be North Carolina, and in my opinion it has become an easy target for the Administration.”
The amendment was passed by a vote of 245-171.
The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996, giving states the right not to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states. President Barack Obama has directed the Department of Justice to no longer defend Section 3 of the law, which defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The section prohibited legally married same sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
Huelskamp said the Obama Administration “in a very clear and flagrant violation of its responsibilities” had stopped enforcing DOMA.
“I am offering an amendment to prohibit the Department of Justice from spending tax payer money to undermine the Defense of Marriage Act,” he explained.
Despite Huelskamp’s concerns, the Obama Administration has not challenged DOMA in court or taken legal action against state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage. As Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, explained to the Washington Blade, the Obama Administration is not defending DOMA, but it is still enforcing it.
“The Huelskamp Amendment is a solution in search of a problem,” Thompson said. “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.”
After Obama directed the Department of Justice to no longer the law, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) voted along party lines to direct the House General Counsel to defend DOMA in court. The five-member advisory group has the authority to instruct the non-partisan office of the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives.