Boehner: House likely to defend DOMA in court

CBS/ AP

gay marriage
CBS/ AP

The Republican-led House of Representatives is likely to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Calif.) said in a newly-published interview. The move would come in the wake of the decision by the Obama administration to no longer defend the law.

"I'd be very surprised if the House didn't decide that they were going to defend law," Boehner said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. (Watch below)

The Justice Department announced last week that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the legal prohibition on federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The decision prompted both those in favor and those opposed to the law to call on Congress to make the next move. Liberals are calling for Congress to fully repeal the law -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is introducing legislation to do so -- while conservatives want Congress to intervene in court and defend the law.

The early statements by many prominent Republicans following the administration's DOMA decision were muted, prompting questions over whether opposition to gay marriage had faded as an issue for the GOP base. However, Boehner told CBN that House members have been discussing their options and will make a decision on how to proceed by the end of the week.

"If the president won't lead, if the president won't defend DOMA, then you'll see the House of Representatives defend our actions in passing a bill that frankly passed overwhelmingly," he said. "There are a lot of options on the table."

The House could consider appointing counsel to represent it in court, Boehner said, an option floated by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), a potential 2012 presidential contender.

Last week, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, "It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the President's neglect of duty."

Meanwhile, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said that "Congressional leaders must not waste another taxpayer dollar defending this patently unconstitutional law."

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