House Reaffirms support for Defense of Marriage Act
Hours after President Obama’s Oval Office interview when he announced support for same-sex marriage, the House of Representatives passed an amendment that would prevent money from being used to litigate against the Defense of Marriage Act. 48% of Catholics in the House of Representatives voted against the amendment.
But we need to take a step back first to walk through how we got to the vote …
There was are some subtleties many in the media overlooked about President Obama’s May 9, 2012 “personal” “affirmation” for same-sex marriage during his interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts that appeared on “Good Morning America” Thursday, May 10, 2012.
The White House is “spinning” this is a “personal” decision by pointing to the following paragraph:
“…at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married…”
What is being forgotten in all of this “historic” news is that the President has already inserted his “personal” beliefs into the policy debate and therefore they are not just “personal” but rather the position of his administration. He also simply said yesterday that he was affirming that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to get married.
He went on to say in the interview:
“And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what’s recognized as a marriage.”
The signal he is sending here is that the states should decide the definition of marriage.
There are two huge problems with these paragraphs being highlighted for reporters and voters reminiscent of how Obama tried to fool Catholic voters in 2008:
1) He openly opposed Question 1 in North Carolina from the White House which received the support of over 1.3 million voters on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Therefore, this is not a “personal” approach to same-sex marriage when you weigh in from the White House on a state vote.
2) Knowing a handful of states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, should the Defense of Marriage Act fail in any court it immediately does become a federal issue when all states are forced to recognize the marriages from those states.
President Obama declared on February 23, 2011 that he determined the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional and that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the law. DOMA was enacted by overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress (80% combined) and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
DOMA defines the words marriage, spouse, husband, and wife wherever they appear in the U.S. Code as referring only to the union of a man or a woman. It also defends the right of each state not to be forced to accept the redefinition of marriage in a handful of other states as a result of state court decisions or laws.
When the Obama Justice Department abandoned DOMA, as a co-equal branch of our government, the House of Representatives began defending DOMA in the courts through an appointed counsel, Paul Clement.
This now brings us back to the President’s May 9th affirmation of his belief in same-sex marriage.
At 11:30 p.m., just hours after the President’s announcement in the Oval Office, Rep. Tim Huelskamp offered an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill for FY2013 that would prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds opposing the Defense of Marriage Act. The amendment seeks to ensure that DOJ will not begin litigating against DOMA in the future. This amendment passed by a vote of 245 to 171. 16 Democrats joined 229 Republicans in supporting the amendment. 15 members did not vote.
The President may try to say this is not a federal issue but the actions he has directed his administration to take in the courts are in fact a federal approach to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
Click here to see how your Representative voted on the Huelskamp amendment [Vote#10 in the scorecard].
Catholic Members of Congress Vote Summary:
- 60 Catholic Republicans were joined by 4 Catholic Democrats supporting the Defense of Marriage Act.
- 57 Catholic Democrats were joined by 2 Catholic Republicans opposing the Defense of Marriage Act.