Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland want House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, to abandon efforts to defend 1996’s Defense of Marriage Act, in regard to a case that involves a disabled Iraq war veteran, according to ThinkProgress.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH
“[W]e strongly object to spending taxpayer money to intervene in this case against a decorated veteran, Tracey Cooper-Harris, and her spouse, Maggie Cooper-Harris,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote in their letter. “This decision clearly exceeds the scope of the original BLAG authorization, with which we initially disagreed.”
They also decried the expense of defending DOMA—some estimates peg it at $1.5 million, according to The Huffington Post—money that could be used, for example, to investigate Trayvon Martin’s shooting. Something that Pelosi and Hoyer asked Boehner to do.
Tracey Cooper-Harris, who receives disability benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder as well as multiple sclerosis, claims the Veterans Affairs Administration’s denial of spousal benefits to her wife violates Cooper-Harris’ constitutional right to equal protection.
House Republicans called the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) order to argue DOMA’s constitutionality in Feb. 2010, when the Obama administration deemed it unconstitutional.
DOMA forbids legal recognition of same-sex couples. However, BLAG also plans to defend U.S. Code’s Title 38. Title 38 effectively defines spouses as straight couples. Hoyer and Pelosi described the move as more than just an assault on marriage equality.
“This latest decision not only ignores the civil rights of LGBT Americans but opens a new, direct assault on veterans. The men and women of our Armed Forces serve with courage and dignity on behalf of our safety and security. They risk their lives for the country they love—and they should not face prejudice at home because of whom they love,” Pelosi and Hoyer also wrote.