The legal group of the US House of Represenatives has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) after President Barack Obama (pictured) decided last year to stop defending the law in court.
On Friday, the House appealed to the Court’s justices to weigh in on the law after a number of lower federal courts said that the law was unconstitutional.
The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which represents the House of Representatives, has taken the lead in defending the 1996 law after the Obama administration announced it would no longer seek to uphold the act in court. Former Solicitor General Paul Clement is heading up the legal defence.
DOMA, signed into law in 1996 by an overwhelming majority states that federal law does not recognise same-sex marriages contracted in the states, and allows states where same-sex marriage is not legal to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages contracted in other states.
BLAG’s request, which spans 35 pages in length, states that the federal government has “deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing,” because “only a man and a woman can beget a child together without external assistance.”
“Congress, of course, did not invent the meanings of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ in 1996,” it states. “Rather, DOMA merely reaffirmed and codified the traditional definition of marriage, i.e., what Congress itself has always meant—and what courts and the executive branch have always understood it to mean.”
Republicans control the group by a 3-2 margin. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer voted against filing the appeal, while Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy supported the motion.
Four appeals courts have upheld the law, and four have deemed it unconstitutional.
In May, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Boston, overturned Section 3 of the law, arguing that while states may define marriage for themselves, the federal government may not.
Then-President Bill Clinton signed the overwhelmingly popular bill in 1996.
The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear this case, but legal experts say judicial review of the law is inevitable.