Breitbart News reported Dec. 10 that the conservative group American Majority Action (AMA) tried but failed to replace the top Republican leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Whip Kevin McCarthy for "abandoning conservativsm" (sic) over a prospective debt deal with the White House.
(Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Whip Kevin McCarthy talk behind House Speaker John Boehner. Photo via CNN)
Three days later, at a press conference during which Boehner again inveighed that "Washington has a spending problem," the Republican House Speaker defended a secret increase of taxpayer money to the House-hired law firm defending DOMA in federal court, which the Obama administration has refused to do because they believe DOMA is unconstitutional. According to Think Progress, House Administration Committee Chair Dan Lungren (R-CA) - who was defeated in November -
"secretly approved a $500,000 increase to a contract with a private law firm to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. While the increase was approved in September, neither the public nor the Democratic House minority was informed until this week, Roll Call reports.
The contract now authorizes Bancroft PLLC and former Solicitor General Paul Clement (R) to spend up to $2 million in to defend DOMA -- the second increase to what was originally a $1 million cap. The U.S. Department of Justice stopped defending the 1996 law in February 2011 after determining the law to be in conflict with the U.S. Constittuion.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18 - just 13 days before going over the "fiscal cliff" triggers automatic, mandatory $600 billion in tax increases and across-the-board government spending cuts - LGBT top leaders called on the House Republican leadership [pdf] to stop funding DOMA. An excerpt of the letter reads:
Despite the enormous economic challenges our country is facing, the House of Representatives recently decided to increase government spending to defend this discriminatory law - a law that intentionally harms thousands of Americans who are legally married. Exit polls from last month's election indicate that the economy was overwhelmingly the number one concern for voters, with nearly 60 percent saying it was the most important issue facing lawmakers. The deficit and foreign policy also proved top of mind for voters, 34 percent of whom said their financial situation was worse off today than it was four years ago. To that end, a 2004 report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates federal individual income and estate tax revenues would actually increase $700 million per year if DOMA did not mandate the nonrecognition of marriages of same-sex couples.
At the same time, voters in three states approved marriage equality and, in Minnesota, rejected writing a marriage ban into their state's constitution. A strong majority of Americans support marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples - including an increasing number of conservatives. With more states allowing committed same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses, DOMA imposes burdens on hard working, tax paying citizens. There's no good reason to treat couples who have taken on the commitment of marriage as single, and deny them spousal protections like Social Security survival benefits, family health and federal pension benefits, and the ability to take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse. It's not surprising that recent polling from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that a majority of Americans oppose DOMA and the Republicans' defense of it in court.
Americans have sent a clear message that they want lawmakers to focus on strengthening our economy, creating jobs, and securing a bright future for generations to come. Spending $2 million - and counting - on harming LGBT people and wasting precious time and resources that should be spent on more important issues is not the way to best serve the interests of the American people. We strongly urge you to take a leadership role on this critical issue and stop pouring taxpayer dollars into a law that discriminates against Americans.
The Human Rights Campaign points out that:
DOMA singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people--thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. The Supreme Court announced last week that it would be taking up United States v. Windsor, which questions the constitutionality of DOMA.