Rep. John Boehner Scared Of Change, Gay People, Wants To Defend DOMA

When Obama announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA in court, and Rep. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to begin the repeal process, DOMA’s fate seemed maybe not sealed exactly, but certainly looking worse than it had last month. Rep. John Boehner – yes, the same one who prioritized the bill arguing that there was such a thing as “forcible rape” and, accordingly “nonforcible rape” – has decided that he’s not ready to give up. According to Boehner, the Republican-led House of Representatives can appoint its own counsel to defend DOMA, so as to avoid becoming “complicit in the President’s neglect of duty.” In fact, his exact words were:

“I’m really disappointed in the President and the Department of Justice in the fact that they’re not going to defend a law that Congress passed overwhelmingly. It’s their responsibility to do that. Now, it’s happened before where administrations have decided they weren’t going to go out and vigorously defend a law that Congress passed but I really am disappointed in the President in his actions but if the President won’t lead, if the President won’t defend DOMA then you’ll see the House of Representatives defend our actions in passing a bill that frankly passed overwhelmingly.”

This is the option that’s been recommended by Rick Santorum, the aggressively anti-gay senator from Pennyslvania. There are a few details perhaps worth noting when considering Boehner’s statement – for instance, that the DoJ has recommended that DOMA not be defended because it’s unconstitutional (at least the section dealing with whether marriage is between one man and one woman) which is in fact what their responsibility is, not mechanically arguing in defense of everything that comes through Congress. Or that the level of support that Congress lends to something isn’t necessarily the best metric for whether it should be protected by law, considering that Congress has also passed things like de jure segregation and a resolution to go to war in Iraq in order to divest them of their weapons of mass destruction. But hey, who’s counting?

How effective Santorum and Boehner’s plan might be remains to be seen – it may not happen at all, and even if it does, the House-appointed counsel may not be enough to prop up DOMA for much longer. On the other hand, the House’s obvious disapproval of this move by Obama means it will be very difficult to pass Rep. Feinstein’s repeal bill through the House. Perhaps more than anything else this move goes to showcase how far the House is willing to take their stance of opposition to Obama’s administration; their attacks on Planned Parenthood and NPR already haven’t been particularly effective, as they would need cooperation from the Senate and President to make real change, but have demonstrated that they’re willing to use their legislative power to categorically lash out at every measure or cause championed by the left.

Even if, as in the case of collective bargaining in Wisconsin, it doesn’t actually do anything to help them or alleviate ‘budget concerns.’ Although Boehner and especially Santorum have shown plenty of ill will towards gays in the past, and this move might well come from a place of homophobia and bigotry, it seems just as likely that it comes from a deep-seated compulsion to make sure that no one left of center (of left of straight) has anything that they want, ever. Obama’s been accused of making his latest moves with the 2012 election in mind, but if you’re really concerned about the outcome of that election, it might be the Republicans’ strategy you want to be more concerned about.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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19 Comments

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      Oh, they aren’t wasting their time. Their cold, calculated attacks on women, healthcare, and the working class are all part of the grand plan to utterly devastate and destroy any remnants of progressive power and influence. Acorn registering disenfranchised voters? Smear them, cut funding. Republican cash flow issues? Citizens United. Union backing Democrats? Smear and attack them. Public media exposing the truth? Ditto and so forth.

      The 2% in this country will do anything to retain their money and power, even at the cost of mass human suffering. When will the 98% have had enough?

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      It’s because the Republicans want to do all the fucking themselves. They can’t stand when others do it (like queers and teenagers) so they have to go ahead and fuck everybody.

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    I don’t believe John Boehner has any Neo-Nazi relatives, nor does this article concern then, nor has Sarah Palin actually died from eating him…

    Hey, but he’s still an assmunch.

    P.S. What would I know? I’m only Jesusm

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    The Obama Administration is getting a lot of criticism from social conservatives for ending its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, if part of President Obama’s job is to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” he made the right call.

    There was never any point in defending something as clearly unconstitutional as DOMA. This law sets up differing legal standards for Gay and Straight couples, thus violating the 14th Amendment. Because of DOMA, even Gay couples who are legally married in Iowa or Massachusetts are unrecognized by the federal government for the purposes of tax law and Social Security.

    Also, unlike married Straight couples, married Gay couples become “UN-married” if they move across state lines, so DOMA violates the “Full Faith & Credit” clause.

    Heck, even a lawyer with the American Family Association has admitted that DOMA is “probably unconstitutional.” Details are here:
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/03/01/AFAs_Lawyer_Says_DOMA_Is_Unconstitutional

    By its own actions, the federal government has made marriage a federal issue. Most of the legal benefits of marriage are bestowed by the federal government. You can argue about religion and parenthood until the cows come home, and it will not negate the fact that there is simply no constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the same legal benefits that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

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    So… the country’s economy’s in shreds, unemployment’s still high, job creation is non-existent… and republicans are worried about MARRIAGES? At the rate they’re spearheading this conservative bigotry, there will be no one in this country left to marry – they’ll all have emigrated to Canada or built a nice raft out on the Pacific/Atlantic ocean, dubbing it ‘New America’.

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