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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 29
House Republicans surrender on marriage - BLAG withdraws from bias suit in wake of DOMA decision
Section One
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House Republicans surrender on marriage - BLAG withdraws from bias suit in wake of DOMA decision

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Lawyers for the House Republican leadership have said their clients will no longer defend laws that define marriage in exclusively opposite-sex terms.

In a July 18 court filing, lawyers for BLAG - the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group set up by Republicans to defend DOMA in court - asked permission to withdraw as a defendant from a suit challenging DOMA and Title 38 of the U.S. Code.

The plaintiffs, Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin and her wife, Casey, argued that two sections in Title 38 dealing with veterans' benefits violate their equal protection and due process rights because they define 'spouse' as 'a person of the opposite sex.'

The case was originally filed by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (now known as OutServe-SLDN).

In a July 17 filing, the plaintiffs argue that Windsor - the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar provision of DOMA unconstitutional - 'is plainly dispositive,' meaning it invalidates the Title 38 language as well.

'[T]he same logic that required DOMA to be invalidated applies with equal force to the definitional provisions for the term 'spouse' and phrase 'surviving spouse,' as used in [Title 38],' plaintiffs argued.

BOEHNER: NO REACTION
Judge Richard Stearns then asked the partied to the lawsuit to give 'any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case,' following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision striking down section 3 of DOMA.

The next day, BLAG meekly replied, '[T]he House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.'

As BLAG's lawyers explained in their filing, 'The Supreme Court recently resolved the issue of DOMA Section 3's constitutionality. See United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. __ (2013), 2013 WL 3196928 (U.S. June 26, 2013).

'The Windsor decision necessarily resolves the issue of DOMA Section 3's constitutionality in this case. While the question of whether 38 U.S.C. § 101(3), (31) is constitutional remains open, the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court's opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute.'

While House Speaker John Boehner once trumpeted his decision to defend DOMA after President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declined to do so, his office made only a cursory comment on BLAG's filing.

'The document from the legal team speaks for itself,' Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, told the blog BuzzFeed in response to a request for comment.

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