Boehner’s DOMA Albatross
“Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”
From Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I wrote before about the politics of defending DOMA — supporting marriage equality is still ahead of where many political “leaders” want to be, but defending discrimination is behind it, so the game right now is to make the other side commit. When I wrote that I said that I didn’t have a good understanding of the mechanics of the DOJ’s refusal to defend DOMA on appeal.
A few days ago the New York Law Journal helped me out with that, and unless you’re a lawyer you probably didn’t see it. Here’s how it goes:
Mr. Boehner said he intends to convene the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which has the authority under House Rules to instruct the Office of House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of that chamber. The five-member panel consists of the speaker, majority leader, majority whip, minority leader and minority whip.
Mr. Boehner said he was convening the panel “for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law.” But there was no immediate indication of specifically what action it would direct or when the group would meet.
Perhaps obviously, that’s a body with three votes for and two against, on party lines. Once they do that, the lawyers making the bigoted arguments in court are not the Administration’s of the US Government’s, but the House’s, and effectively, the Republican leadership’s lawyers.
And with that comes a set of allies that the Republican leadership may not want to stand so close to:
The National Organization for Marriage issued a statement praising Mr. Boehner’s announcement.
“With the House intervening, we will finally get lawyers in that courtroom who are trying to win this case—and we are confident that in the end DOMA will be upheld by the Supreme Court,” said Brian Brown, the group’s president.
[Emphasis supplied.] Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher … well, if you’re trying to look like people who will say anything to prevent legal recognition of same sex relationships but who are motivated by an underlying ick factor, then they’re your allies of first resort. If, however, you recognize — as Boehner seems to — that you’re stuck between constituencies that absolutely insist on fighting for discriminatory marriage laws and a demographic tidal wave who see marriage equality as inevitable and fair, the last thing you want is to have to take a lead role in the fight, and the second last thing you want is to do that marching side-by-side with NOM.
Jokes about how Obama really gave him the bird welcome in comments.