DOMA Splits GOP Leadership and Rank-And-File
June 26th, 2013
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued this brief statement after the DOMA decision was announced:
Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President Clinton signed it into law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally. While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman
As BTB’s Timothy Kincaid pointed out, many are seeing his statement and others from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R_KY) as a sign that Republican leadership isn’t eager to take up opposition to marriage equality in the nation’s Capital. They can see the tea leaves as well as anyone. Well, almost anyone. One rank and file Congressman looked at Boehner’s statement and saw things differently:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), speaking at a Tuesday meeting between reporters and conservative lawmakers, said he will file a constituional amendment in Congress late this week to restore DOMA. Huelskamp said he will be joined by other conservatives.
“My response to this [decision] will be later this week to file a federal marriage amendment,” he said.
When asked if leadership is likely to support efforts to restore DOMA, Huelskamp said he was encouraged by the Boehner’s statement after the ruling. “I give tremendous credit to the Speaker of House,” Huelskamp said.
Whatever Huelskamp may think he saw in Boehner’s statement, I think it’s safe to say however that DOMA’s revival will be DOA as soon as it hits the House floor.
Meanwhile, Florida Senator and possible 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio strikes a different tone:
I believe the Supreme Court made a serious mistake today when it overstepped its important, but limited role. I do not believe that President Clinton and overwhelming bipartisan majorities of both houses of Congress acted with malice or intent to ‘demean’ a class of people when they adopted a uniform definition of marriage for the purposes of federal law. The Court should not have second guessed the will of the American people acting through their elected representatives without firm constitutional justifications. The sweeping language of today’s majority opinion is more troubling than the ruling itself as it points to further interference by the Court in the years to come.
For millions of Americans, the definition of marriage is not an abstract political question, or some remote legal debate. It’s a deeply personal issue. It’s an issue that I have grappled with as well.
I believe that marriage is a unique historical institution best defined as the union between one man and one woman. In the U.S., marriage has traditionally been defined by state law, and I believe each state, acting through their elected representatives or the ballot, should decide their own definition of marriage. For the purposes of federal law, however, Congress had every right to adopt a uniform definition and I regret that the Supreme Court would interfere with that determination.