Republican lawmakers are threatening to put the nation’s financial health at risk over a ritual vote to raise the debt ceiling, but they don’t actually object to throwing away money. Case in point: they seem to relish spending taxpayer dollars on the plainly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.
The 1996 law prohibits federal recognition of marriages between people of the same sex. It was signed – to his shame – by President Bill Clinton, and for years the government defended DOMA in court against lawsuits. But in 2011 President Obama instructed the Justice Department to relent – after Justice concluded that the law was not constitutional.
Cue the budget-conscious Republicans on Capitol Hill, who authorized the spending of up to $2.75 million in public funds to hire lawyers to defend DOMA on their behalf. Apparently, that was not a big enough check, so on Jan. 4, the House Republicans raised the fee ceiling to $3 million.
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner protesting the spending, which the G.O.P. leadership somehow forgot to mention at any of the dozens of press conferences they’ve held to preach the gospel of fiscal responsibility.
“This clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds is highly irregular and objectionable, and it must end now,” they wrote, pointing out that defending DOMA is futile since it violates Constitutional guarantees of equal protection.
The Defense of Marriage Act is perhaps the last example of officially sanctioned discrimination in the United States. Until Congress repeals it or the Supreme Court strikes it down, a select group of Americans will be denied the benefits and recognition provided to all other married Americans, and state laws that allow gay unions will have only limited effect