Tuesday, October 4, 2011

GOP Priorities: Jobs For Right-Wing Lawyers

Last weekend I was in southern California to attend a wedding of two lovely women.  With the fate of Proposition 8 pending appeal, the marriage will not be recognized by the state of California.  But at least both women are American citizens and can live here.  At the reception I met two delightful women -- one American, one German.  They are married in Germany, where they have the same immigration rights as spouses of the opposite sex.  They would love to move here where the American has family, but they can't.  Section 3 of Defense of Marriage Act prevents one spouse from sponsoring the other for a green card.

Bill Clinton did many disgraceful things while President having nothing to do with interns.  In 1996 he signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.  Barack Obama ultimately determined that the law discriminates against sexual orientation.
Accordingly, in February 2011, he directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA against court challenges.

Section 3 has been found unconstitutional in two federal court cases in Massachusetts and in a California bankruptcy court case.  The cases are on appeal and in the absence of the Justice Department, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has stepped into the breach.

In March, a five-person House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted along party lines (3-2) to direct the House General Counsel to initiate a legal defense of DOMA.  Paul Clement, former Solicitor General in the Bush Administration, was hired at taxpayer expense.  The original contract was limited to $500,000 at the rate of $520 per hour.

A new contract raises that cap to $1.5 million.

As Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese put it:
There seems to be no limit to how much taxpayer money the House Republican leadership is willing to spend to keep this discriminatory law on the books.  At a time when budgeting is the watchword in Washington, Americans will be rightly aghast at this boondoggle for right-wing lawyers. The Defense of Marriage Act singles out same-sex couples for unfair treatment and no amount of money can overcome the fact that it flies in the face of our cherished constitutional principles.


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