By Seung Min Kim
Just hours after President Barack Obama publicly backed gay marriage, the House struck back and passed a measure aimed at reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act.
With a 245-171 vote, the House voted to stop the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to actively oppose DOMA -- the Clinton-era law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that the Obama administration decided in February 2011 to no longer defend in court.
"It is not President Obama's prerogative to decide which laws matter and which do not, nor his right to challenge constitutional amendments duly passed by the various states," said the measure's sponsor, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.). "The Justice Department is duty-bound to enforce DOMA and to not do so is a flagrant disregard for the Constitution and for the rule of law."
Huelskamp's amendment was attached to a $51.1 billion spending bill that would fund DOJ and the Commerce Department, and major science agencies. Sixteen Democrats voted with the GOP for the amendment, while seven Republicans opposed it.
Democrats immediately attacked Republicans for the vote.
"On an historic day and in the dark of night, House Republicans have voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America's families," Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said in a statement. "House Republicans continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history."
And other top Democrats argued that the measure is effectively useless because the administration isn't actively circumventing the law.
"Now, it is true the administration declined to defend the act in court, but not defending an act in court in no way means that you are contravening any enforcement," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).