Friday, July 19, 2013

House Republicans Cave On Defending Marriage Statutes

In a move that will cause spittle to fly amongst the Christofascist elements of the GOP base, House Republicans have announced that they will cease defending anti-gay marriage statutes akin to DOMA.  One must hope that with lawsuits multiplying and public approval of gay marriage soaring the sane elements left in the Republican Party will grow sufficient spine to politely tell the Christofascists to do something rude and crude to themselves.  Hate groups like Family Research Council and The Family Foundation here in Virginia may want to continue their rear guard war against modernity, but long term, the GOP has to face reality.  An article in BuzzFeed looks at the House GOP's capitulation.  Here are highlights:

House Republican leaders announced in a court filing Thursday that they will not defend remaining statutes similar to the Defense of Marriage Act that ban recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages.

The move comes three weeks and one day after the Supreme Court ruled in Edith Windsor’s case that the federal definition of marriage in DOMA was unconstitutional because it banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages.

“[T]he House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute,” lawyers for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), controlled by House Republicans, wrote about veterans’ benefits statutes that similarly ban recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages.

“The document from the legal team speaks for itself,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed, when asked for comment on the move.

Judge Richard Stearns had asked the parties in a lawsuit addressing the rights of service members and veterans and their same-sex spouses to give “any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case,” following the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA.
In addition to challenging DOMA, the plaintiffs — led by Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, a judge advocate general in Massachusetts Army National Guard, and her wife, Casey — challenge two statutes in Title 38 of the U.S. Code regarding veterans’ benefits that define “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex.”

BLAG’s lawyers on Thursday, however, wrote:
The Supreme Court recently resolved the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality. See United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. __ (2013), 2013 WL 3196928 (U.S. June 26, 2013). The Windsor decision necessarily resolves the issue of DOMA Section 3’s constitutionality in this case. While the question of whether 38 U.S.C. § 101(3), (31) is constitutional remains open, the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute. Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.
The spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, pushed for additional, immediate action.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is clear. Rather than trying to delay justice for particular married gay and lesbian couples and their families, Speaker Boehner should immediately file motions to end House Republicans’ involvement in the remaining cases and stop spending taxpayer dollars to defend unconstitutional discrimination,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told BuzzFeed.

In addition to the McLaughlin case, there at least remains unresolved a case challenging similar statutes brought by Tracey and Maggie Cooper-Harris in federal court in California. Additional cases outstanding include Cardona v. Shinseki and Bishop v. United States.]
It will be interesting to see how NOM and Bryan Fischer try to describe these events as a "win" somehow. 

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