POLITICS
02/28/2011 12:08 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John Boehner: DOMA Likely To Be Defended By House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives will likely issue its own defense of a federal law abandoned by the White House that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, House Speaker John Boehner said on Monday.

President Barack Obama decided his administration would no longer defend the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. court, dropping its challenge to a federal judge's ruling in Boston that the statute was unconstitutional.

The decision last week angered Republicans in Congress who oppose same-sex marriage and opened Obama to charges that he was using the case to cater to gay rights activists and their supporters, who praised the reversal.

"I'd be very surprised if the House didn't decide that they were going to defend the law," Boehner said in an interview posted on the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, a U.S. cable TV channel.

While the Obama administration dropped its appeal of the Boston ruling, Boehner indicated that House Republicans could now decide to intervene in the case.

He said the House could appoint a counsel to represent the congressional chamber in court, an idea proposed by former Senator Rick Santorum, an opponent of gay rights who is considering run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that Justice was ready to work closely with the courts to ensure that Congress had an opportunity to join in the litigation.

Republicans are also considering new legislation and other moves.

"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," said Boehner.

"It strikes me as something that's just as raw politics as anything I've seen, knowing that a lot of people who believe in DOMA are probably not likely to vote for him and pandering to the other side on this issue," Boehner said.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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