A subcommittee in the Republican-controlled U.S. House is set on April 15 to hear testimony in a hearing titled “Defending Marriage.”
The hearing, which is set to take place before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, is scheduled to begin at 10 am in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
As of Friday, no witness list was posted on the committee website, nor was the intent the hearing immediately known. Whether the likely impending shutdown of the federal government would cancel or postpone the hearing also wasn’t immediately clear.
Charlotte Sellmyer, a House Judiciary Committee spokesperson, said more information would be available next week.
“Per our office policy, we release background and witness information one day prior to the hearing, so please check back in with us next week,” Sellmyer said.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), chair of the committee, has said President Obama could be impeached for his decision to drop his administration’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and the upcoming hearing would likely represent his views.
In a March interview with Think Progress, Franks said he supports defunding the Justice Department if it doesn’t defend DOMA and added he would “absolutely” favor impeaching Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder if support for doing so “could gain collective support.”
On Feb. 23, Obama announced that DOMA is unconstitutional and notified Congress that his administration would no longer defend the statute in court.
Following the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Committee’s party-line vote of 3-2 in March, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) directed the House general counsel to take up defense of DOMA. On Thursday, he told the Washington Blade during a news conference he doesn’t have an estimate on how much House defense of DOMA would cost the U.S. government.
Criticism for holding the hearing came Friday from the Human Rights Campaign and the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
HRC President Joe Solmonese counted the upcoming testimony as the third anti-gay hearing that Republicans have held since they took control of the House — recalling the two hearings that have already taken place on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal implementation.
“The Republican Party, and House Republicans in particular, seem to be fixated on beating up on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” Solmonese said. “The government is on the brink of shutting down, yet Republicans are still hell-bent on wasting tax-payer dollars fighting battles out of step with the American people’s priorities.”
Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, similarly chided the Republican majority for holding the hearing.
“From attacks on women’s health care to this ideological ‘hearing,’ Republicans are showing that the only thing they are interested in doing is promoting the divisive social policy of their extreme right wing,” Hammill said. “Republicans should abandon these foolish ideological quests and work on the American people’s top priority: creating jobs.”
Whether Boehner supports the hearing wasn’t immediately known. A Boehner spokesperson didn’t respond on short notice to the Blade’s request to comment on the hearing.