WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she's "very optimistic" the Supreme Court will strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, adding that she doesn't envy Paul Clement, the attorney defending the federal ban on gay marriage.
"What a stale role to play in life," Pelosi said of Clement, during a press event in the Capitol.
Pelosi, a longtime advocate of gay rights, was one of a handful of lawmakers who attended DOMA's oral arguments before the court. She called it "pretty thrilling" to be in the chamber during the debate, and based on what she heard, she predicted the court would find the law unconstitutional.
"I'm very optimistic that DOMA will be struck down," she said. "It doesn't seem to have a rational basis."
Clement did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Obama administration stopped defending DOMA in February 2011 after Attorney General Eric Holder concluded that the law is unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took over its defense shortly afterward. Since then, House Republican leaders have signed on to spend as much as $3 million to keep defending it in various court cases.
House Republicans have been largely silent this week as DOMA has dominated the news. A request for comment from Cantor's office was not returned, but Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that GOP leaders will continue defending DOMA in court because, regardless of opposition to it, it is still the law.
"A law's constitutionality is determined by the courts -- not by the Department of Justice. As long as the Obama Administration refuses to exercise its responsibility, we will," Steel said in a statement.
Pelosi called it "very strange" that House Republicans would be so quiet on the matter given their decision to keep defending it in court. Every single House Republican -- even the three that have said they oppose DOMA -- voted in January to keep funding DOMA's legal defense when they voted to approve the 113th Congress rules package.
On top of that, HuffPost reported earlier Wednesday that NPR's "Morning Edition" couldn’t find any prominent DOMA defenders to speak about the issue on the show. Boehner declined to be interviewed, as did Clement.
"Three million dollars speaks very loudly," she said. "I think their behavior has been ... really disappointing and unworthy of a subject that is going before the Supreme Court of the country."
Jimmy LaSalvia, the executive director of GOProud, which represents conservatives in favor of gay marriage, was among those gathered outside of the Supreme Court on Wednesday. He said he couldn't understand why House Republicans are still defending DOMA, particularly since even some opponents of same-sex marriage believe the law violates the Constitution.
"At this point, I'm absolutely baffled," LaSalvia told The Huffington Post. "I don't think they're done losing yet. What do you think? I think it's because they're not done losing yet."