When President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announced in February that the administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, prominent Republicans were quick to criticize the decision. Mitt Romney called it “an unfortunate mistake,” Newt Gingrich said, “The President is replacing the rule of law with the rule of Obama,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined 80 other Representatives in cosponsoring a resolution condemning the President, and Mike Huckabee is still using the decision to attack Obama.
But this week, Gov. Scott Walker (R) made the exact same decision in Wisconsin, and now these conservatives are mum. Walker inherited a case from Gov. Jim Doyle (D) defending a 2009 domestic partnership law from a suit claiming it violated the 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage or “substantially similar” statuses. On Friday, he filed a motion withdrawing from the defense because he believes the registry is unconstitutional. His attorney, Brian Hagedorn, wrote:
If the governor determines that defending a law would be contrary to the state’s constitution, he cannot order the defense of the law because of his oath to support the Wisconsin Constitution. To allow the previous administration’s analysis to bind a subsequent administration would be contrary to what justice requires.
Many conservatives also have criticized law firm King & Spalding for backing out of defending DOMA, promulgating the talking point that “everybody deserves a defense.” Apparently, “everybody” does not include Wisconsin same-sex couples, who depend on domestic partnerships for protections like hospital visitation rights.
If Walker is not violating his duties, then neither was Obama. Anybody who criticized the President should follow through in criticizing Walker for the same decision or apologize for their partisan, anti-gay attacks.