The first openly gay congressman, former Rep. Barney Frank, would like to thank Republicans for effectively ending the Defense Of Marriage Act.
“We can thank John Boehner and the House Republicans for the most pro-gay opinion, ever,” the Democrat from Massachusetts said, referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling that it’s unconstitutional to deny the protections of marriage to same-sex couples as in the case of Edith Windsor, who was slapped with a $300,000 inheritance tax bill after her wife and partner of 40 years died.
When DOMA and Proposition 8 reached the Supreme Court, both the Obama administration and the California state administration declined to defend the laws in front of the Supreme Court.
“Why was the court able to make a decision in one case and not the other?” Frank asked on Thursday’s Morning Joe. “The answer was John Boehner.”
For DOMA, Ohio Republican and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner asked the House of Representative’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend it. Their defense was crucial to the Court’s decision that the group had jurisdiction in the case.
“What Justice Kennedy says is we couldn’t decide the other one, but we can decide this, because the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, with the Republicans in the House dominating it, made the argument and that allows us to decide it,” Frank said, comparing the differences in how the Court ruled on Prop 8 and DOMA.
Kennedy’s majority opinion notes that the House’s defense of the law was one of the circumstances that “support the Court’s decision to proceed to the merits” and not reject the appeal on the basis of jurisdiction. ”BLAG’s sharp adversarial presentation of the issue satisfies the prudential concerns that otherwise might counsel against hearing an appeal.”
The House’s legal defense cost roughly $1.5 million.
“I made it clear when the House took up this case that I was doing so to protect the Constitution and our system of checks and balances,” Boehner said Thursday afternoon. “The president—or the attorney general—doesn’t have the right to declare a law unconstitutional; only the Supreme Court does.”
“I believe that the House—the House’s actions were appropriate. The Court’s made its decision,” he said, adding that he has no current plans to address the issue from the House.
Watch the full interview with Barney Frank below.