House Republican Leadership Violates Jobs Pledge by Taking Steps to Take up Defense of Discriminatory DOMA Law

Intervention tries to score political points while violating pledge to focus on economic woes

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, strongly criticized the House Republican leadership for taking steps to defend the clearly discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, violating their pledge to focus only on economic issues.

“House Republican leadership has now shown they’re more interested in scoring cheap political points on the backs of same-sex couples than tackling real problems,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As families across the country continue to struggle, the House Republican leadership’s prescription is to keep families they don’t like from accessing needed protections.”

Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have repeatedly promised Americans that they will only focus on jobs and the economy:

“Our new majority is intent on honoring the commitment we made to the American people…. We pledged we would focus on jobs and spending, and stopping the Washington regulatory assault that has led to massive uncertainty in the private sector. We’re going to keep our word.” – Speaker Boehner at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 2/10/11

“We will reform the way the House operates. This starts by rethinking how time is spent and what types of legislation we will bring to the House floor. We will identify our top policy goals and commit to take concrete steps every single week to advance those goals. And we will hold each other accountable by asking: Are my efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they reducing spending; and are they shrinking the size of the federal government while increasing and protecting liberty? If not, why am I doing it? Why are we doing it?" – Majority Leader Cantor, 11/15/10

“The decision to mount an all-out defense of DOMA is particularly hypocritical given the Speaker’s contention that the President was distracted from focusing on the economy by DOMA,” said Solmonese.

In order to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in court, Congress would likely have to make arguments that could include:

  • That gays and lesbians have not faced a history of discrimination
  • That one’s sexual orientation is in fact relevant to a person’s ability to contribute to society
  • That, contrary to the opinion of experts, sexual orientation is something that can be changed
  • That, despite widespread laws such as marriage amendments disadvantaging gays and lesbians, they are politically powerful
  • That the federal government is justified in violating the federalist tradition of leaving marriage and family law to the states

“A far right fringe may be calling for a defense of DOMA, but doing so is sure to turn off independent voters,” said Solmonese.  “John Boehner should realize that the world has changed since 1996 and fair-minded Americans won’t like what House Republican leaders have to say when trying to justify federal discrimination against some of a state’s lawful marriages.”

Additionally, there are no guarantees that House Republican leaders would succeed in these cases.  In two DOMA-related cases in Massachusetts, a federal judge appointed by President Nixon has already found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional even under the lowest level of scrutiny that gives great deference to the legislature.

“What should never be lost in this debate is that every day, DOMA denies fundamental protections like social security benefits to legally married couples and their families,” said Solmonese.  “If Congress wants to make the lives of Americans better, they should be repealing DOMA, not wasting time and resources defending it.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.