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GOP Representatives Not Only Don’t Get It… They Can’t Even Answer a Simple Question

As some readers might remember, last week I wrote a piece questioning why the GOP-led House of Representatives was spending tax dollars to retain private counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the courts after the White House instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not to to do so.

Except for one paragraph, I pretty much left my personal feelings about the matter out (yes, I pro-same sex marriage) and focused on the absurdity of the fact that so many GOP leaders talk about nothing but how much the government is adding to the deficit while apparently having no problem about shelling out millions of tax dollar to a private firm to go to bat in the courts – an area that the legislative branch has no business getting into.

As I always do when I write about legislative matters, I sent a copy of the article to my Congressman, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), who has been a pretty unremarkable voice in the House whose career has been pretty much about being a party-line voter with the record of introducing a single bill during his first term – the renaming of a Staten Island post office after fallen Vietnam war marine sergeant Angel Mendez, a native of the borough.

The replies I get from Congressman Grimm’s office are usually very evasive and highly partisan, but this one takes the prize. Not only did he skirt my entire question on taxes, but he also failed to even give his own position on the matter at hand (the expense). On his introduction, he mentions that “the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA was passed into law fifteen years ago, and stipulates that no state shall be obligated to recognize any same-sex marriage from any other state as legally valid.” He adds (correctly) that “the law was passed with an overwhelming majority in Congress and with widespread support throughout the 50 states.”

My piece did not question that. I did mention that DOMA was passed in a hurry to get the problem out of the way. But he makes no mention of that. Instead, he states that “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder recently revealed that the Justice Department would halt legal defense of the act’s third section, which defines marriage in legal terms as only applying to a man and a woman joined together as husband and wife, finding the provision to be unconstitutional.” In the same paragraph, he states that the president’s decision to halt any action against DOMA “is quite troubling.”

He concludes that “as your representative, I hold the oath that I took to uphold the Constitution very seriously. For that reason, I like you am very wary of any efforts to subvert our founding document and the rights of states to make their own decisions regarding marriage.”

I don’t understand why someone who says he or she takes the Constitution so seriously would ignore the fact that eight Federal justices ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional as it goes against the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. He also talks about ‘states’ rights,’ but fails to recognize that the basic principle of the law is to deny equal federal rights to same-sex coupl

Mr. Grimm’s response is evidence that most of the GOP in the House (not only those representing the South) are incredibly out of touch with this country’s changing demographics. By sticking to an agenda instead of listening to their constituencies, they are simply becoming more and more isolated in the national scene. The congressman’s inability to answer a simple question is appalling. Is giving a straight answer that hard?

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Why Are My Tax Dollars Being Used To Defend DOMA?

Why Are My Tax Dollars defending DOMA?

By Ernest Barteldes

When President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act back in 1996, it was nothing but a political move: with the general election looming, he wanted the topic (which was beginning to make some waves back then after Hawaii allowed civil unions) out of the way, since there was enough controversy as he faced another election just a few months down.

Over a decade and a half later, the law is facing numerous challenges as attitudes towards same-sex marriage change in the US. Last year, President Obama instructed the Attorney General to no longer defend challenges to the act as the White House no longer believes that marriage is meant to be a sacrosanct act between a man and a woman.

That order would arguably clear the path for marriage equality for all, but then the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to pick up the White House’s slack and retain an independent law firm to defend DOMA in the courts – on the taxpayers’ dime.

Every time I tune into political shows like Face the Nation or Meet the Press, all Republican representatives and senators talk about is government spending, entitlements and the like. However, these same men and women who talk so much about the deficit have approved shelling out $ 520 an hour (with a cap of 1.5 million that can be raised at the GOP’s leadership discretion) to pay for former Solicitor General Paul Clement to keep ‘traditional’ marriage in the books.

I would have no problem if Mr. Clement were working pro-bono or being paid through private donations from conservative organizations on behalf of the House, but this is not the case. Instead, his expenses are being footed by public funds with the support of the same politicians who apparently are supposed to curb spending in any way they can.

The fact is that DOMA is a clear affront not only to individuals but also to states’ rights (two points so eagerly argued by right-wing politicians). As a straight man, I can even get married overseas and my certificate will still be recognized in all 50 states, but if a gay couple does the same in New York, they still cannot claim federal benefits like joint taxes. It is also good to remember that eight Federal courts have declared that DOMA act violates Constitution’s the equal protection clause – which has motivated the Supreme Court to take up the issue during this judicial session.

Additionally, the conservative argument against 'redefining' marriage is just as wrong: for years we have changed laws regarding this: in the past, a female U.S. citizen was barred from marrying a foreign man under penalty of losing her own citizenship, and until 1967 thirteen states banned interracial marriage. Considering we have changed those laws, why would accepting same-sex marriage be such a blow to the "American way of life?"

It is time to have common sense about this issue. The House has no business getting into judiciary matters, and if the general public – especially fiscal conservatives – knew about this, I am sure that they would agree with my point of view even if they personally disapprove of same-sex marriage.

Reply 3 comments from Ernest Barteldes None2 Lawrence Morgan