Six House Democrats are calling on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to keep them apprised of efforts by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. When President Obama announced in February that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA in its many court challenges, Boehner convened the BLAG, and in a quite partisan vote, the Republican-controlled group voted to intervene on behalf of the law. Since the House’s first involvement, Boehner has refused to brief Democrats about how the $500,000 of taxpayer money is being spent in the cases. Those opposed to the defense have been asking to be looped in since April and are now reiterating their demand:
Members, and the American people, should be given the opportunity to understand why House Republican Leadership continues to advance arguments that have no valid basis and are demeaning to many of our fellow Americans. Insofar as BLAG purports to speak for the entire institution, all Members are clients and are entitled to such a briefing. We therefore reiterate our request for a briefing for interested Members, which could be conducted by outside counsel, regarding the continued defense of DOMA in the courts.
Boehner’s briefs have been full of homophobic language, such as claims that homosexuality is a choice and misrepresentations of experts’ studies. Lead attorney Paul Clement has cited such “experts” as ex-gay advocate George Rekers (who needed a rentboy to “lift his luggage”) and the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher, not allowing for either to actually be cross-examined under oath. And the House Democrats are not the only ones Boehner wants to keep in the dark — he violated his own commitment to transparency by objecting to having cameras in the courtroom.
There is nothing about Boehner’s surreptitiously unilateral defense of DOMA that reflects democracy or accountability. He is spending taxpayer money without discretion to spread defamatory lies in an attempt to maintain a discriminatory law. Every day that he refuses to accommodate his colleagues’ request for a briefing is another day that his motives appear anything but just.