LGBT Advocacy Group Petitions Boehner On DOMA With Decision About Same-Sex Marriage In His Hands, Speaker of the House Has Decision to Make
On Thursday, GetEQUAL – a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – launched a nationwide petition campaign, calling on Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to focus on job creation, rather than on discrimination, in an effort to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The online petition.
In the Department of Justice's announcement on Wednesday that the government would no longer defend DOMA in court, Attorney General Eric Holder notified Speaker Boehner that Congress now has the option to defend or not defend the law in pending court cases. That decision will be made by Speaker Boehner, in consultation with the House Judiciary Committee – chaired by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Speaker Boehner and Rep. Smith both issued statements this week indicating that they wish DOMA to stand, but neither have made concrete moves on the court cases. Several other lawmakes – including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Patty Murray (D-WA), as well as Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) – have indicated that they will make legislative moves to overturn the law.
“For 15 years, DOMA has been a thorn in the side of the LGBT community, preventing loving couples from being fully equal under the law,” said Robin McGehee, director of GetEQUAL. “DOMA has ripped bi-national couples apart at the border, prevented partners from being able to share health benefits with one another, and put LGBT families in danger. At a time when our country – and other countries around the world – are looking to our elected officials to show leadership on issues like the economy and unemployment, this is not a time to spend taxpayer resources on defending this discriminatory law in the courts.”
GetEQUAL organizer Tom Morgan, a resident of Ohio, said, "As a tax paying gay Ohioan, I hope that Speaker Boehner understands where his priorities should be. There's a huge financial cost to defending this law in the courts -- and Ohioans need the Speaker to focus on providing cops and firefighters for our state...not discriminating against me and my family." Morgan continued, "I hope the Speaker does the right thing but, if he doesn't, he should know that there are folks in Ohio who will be paying a visit to his office with petition signatures in tow, and making it VERY clear where we stand!"
The petition campaign was launched on Thursday, and Speaker Boehner has until March 11 to make a decision about whether to defend the law in court.
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.