House Republicans have hired a prominent conservative attorney to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a pending lawsuit, legal sources say, and will make an effort to divert money from the Justice Department to fund its high-profile fight.
House Speaker John Boehner disclosed the legal and political strategy in a letter Monday to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Obama administration, which normally would defend federal laws in judicial disputes, announced last month it believed the Defense of Marriage Act, often referred to as DOMA, to be unconstitutional. The law defines marriage for federal purposes as unions only between a man and woman.
Boehner said that with the Justice Department not participating, he had "no choice" but to act unilaterally.
"The burden of defending DOMA, and the resulting costs associated with any litigation that would have otherwise been born (sic) by DOJ (The Department of Justice), has fallen to the House," Boehner said. "Obviously, DOJ's decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA. It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA."
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