It appears the Defense of Marriage Act's days are numbered. Two separate federal appeals courts have already struck down the discriminatory law as unconstitutional, and the Obama administration declared two years ago that it not only rejects DOMA, it will also no longer defend it against ongoing legal challenges.
And yet, as Andrew Rosenthal noted, congressional Republicans don't object to "throwing away money" on a pointless DOMA defense.
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.
Note, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) were not consulted before House GOP leaders signed the agreement with the lawyers and did not agree to the additional spending.
In a letter delivered yesterday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Democratic leaders wrote, "This clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds is highly irregular and objectionable, and it must end now." They added, "From the start, the Republican-led campaign to defend DOMA has been a practice in futility and a waste of Americans' hard-earned tax dollars."
I have a strong hunch Boehner won't care about the Democratic objections, but the next time you hear the Speaker complain that the United States is "broke" -- a favorite Boehner talking point -- remember that he has no qualms about spending 3 million of our dollars on a legal defense of a doomed, discriminatory law.