April 8, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
House GOP to hold hearing on ‘defending marriage’

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.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

12 Comments
  • Is gay marriage harmless? Is it about rights? Is it our business at all to question the nature of what marriage is and who can be married?
    Modern western society has determined that sex between two consenting adults is acceptable, and sex without consent or sex involving a minor is not. Does that mean that two consenting adults having sex in public is accepted? No. So the idea that sex between two consenting adults is acceptable to society is false! Society only accepts sexual behavior between two consenting adults IF AND ONLY IF, that behavior is conducted in private. That is the basis for acceptance of homosexual behavior. Society has said, it will be allowed if conducted in private.
    Now, if sexual behavior is conducted in private but described in vivid detail in public, with a video recording for instance, it is also considered unacceptable. The reason for this is members of the public include minors and non-consenting adults and subjecting them to sexual behavior is unacceptable.
    If sexual behavior is conducted in private but described without detail to the public this is not acceptable for the same reason. This is proven and can be proven anytime, for example if one’s parents were to tell them that they just had sex in the kitchen, or if a high-school principal were to explain to his female teaching staff that he likes to have sex with a certain type of women and did so just before their meeting. Most would find these statements offensive and probably request they not be subjected to it again. However, there are two basic exceptions where this is not only acceptable, but unavoidable and appropriate. The first is when a woman has become pregnant. Society demands that the man involved, be responsible for the welfare of that child, therefore the conception of that child must be made public only in the details of who the father is. The next example is basically the same scenario but with foresight; knowing that a baby may possibly come in the future, a couple publicly states that they will be consenting participants in sexual behavior and subsequently, all babies the woman may have are to be practically and legally, assumed the offspring of the designated man. This is what marriage is, in its most essential form.
    Homosexual behavior, from time to time throughout history, has been viewed as fornication, objectionable behavior as well as forbidden. The modern western world has taken the view that homosexual behavior is now considered acceptable adult sexual behavior with a condition, the same one for heterosexual behavior, that it be conducted in private and the public is not subjected to it.
    The homosexual subculture has not complied with this condition. This subculture has encouraged those who engage in homosexual behavior to subject the public to their sexual behavior. First, by declaring that they will be engaging in homosexual behavior themselves (through the state, which is the public domain, by self identifying as homosexual on applications, contracts and though public media), and more recently, declaring that they are currently engaging in sexual behavior with a specific person (“gay marriage”). There is no reason for society to know these individuals are engaged in homosexual behavior as there is with a woman and a man. This information is not requested or welcomed by the public, and the disclosure is not for the well being of society or its members, but for the personal satisfaction of the individual engaged in homosexual behavior. There are no legitimate exceptions to keeping the nature and existence of this behavior to themselves.
    It is argued by the homosexual subculture that “gay marriage” is required to protect the rights of homosexual sex partners. This is false in two ways. One, if one were to become a homosexual there is not one right that is taken from them; if that person wished they could still have a marriage, just like everyone else, with a member of the opposite sex. A marriage is still a marriage even if one or both members engaged in homosexual behavior as long they are of opposite sex. So marriage is still an option even if one has engaged in homosexual behavior. However, if one chooses to commit to a homosexual relationship, then that individual has made a choice to abandon a married lifestyle for a homosexual lifestyle and the option for marriage was not taken from the individual, but rejected by the individual. This is the same for a celibate and single person who may argue that they too have been denied the right to marriage. So again, no right has been taken away. Then there is the second way the lost rights argument is false; all the rights or privileges the homosexual subculture claim to be denied are already available to them through the current legal system. They claim they cannot receive the property of their sex partner after they die but that’s what a “Will” is for. They claim to not be able visit sex partners in the hospital, but they can use a health care Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney covers most other “rights” they claim to be denied.
    It is also argued by the homosexual subculture that calling a committed homosexual relationship “marriage” doesn’t change the definition of marriage. It does; it changes the definition from a joining or “marriage” of the sexes, the two halves of the human species, as well as two individuals who intend to share their lives, families and engage in sexual behavior, to mean any long term sexual relationship. A homosexual relationship is lacking in representation of both halves of humanity, there is no coming together, joining or union of the sexes and therefore in that sense there is no “marriage”. Also, a man and woman can be “blood” or genetically related to the same child they conceive together, sharing the same biological composition. This is a relationship defined not by the will or intent of an individual, but by the very nature of sex itself. This is a relationship that exists whether it’s acknowledged or not and still exists even if a man and woman divorce. In this sense a man and woman are “married” permanently if they conceive a child. Conversely, homosexual behavior cannot conceive a child at all, so in this sense again there can be no “marriage”. Calling a homosexual relationship “marriage” despite these facts disregards and negates the full meaning of the word and is therefore inaccurate. The definition of marriage has also been culturally established for an unknown number of millennia and therefore cannot be changed even by legislative decree without eradicating the established culture of marriage. That is what the homosexual subculture, whether they know it or not, is attempting to do.
    Throughout human civilization, the culture of marriage between man and woman has been under attack or in conflict with many ideologies and behaviors such as prostitution and other sex crimes, polygyny, polygamy, group sex, “free love”, arranged marriage, chattel marriage, slavery, cult practices, bisexuality as well as homosexuality. Marriage becomes exclusive for those who commit to these types of behaviors, not by purpose, but by the choice of the individual who engages in behavior that is contrary to what marriage is. Marriage should not be redefined, compromised or destroyed to appease those who don’t believe in it.

    • Once married people don’t get breaks and differences in taxes, hospital visitation, and a myriad of other “special privileges” they seem to think they deserve, I’ll buy your argument. However until that day comes, either everyone is treated the same with regards to their money, daily lives, and medical decisions, or NO ONE, including the subset of the population with a 50% “I changed my mind” divorce rate should have an opinion about it.

    • Wow. You are really ignorant. Better go back on your meds.

    • kijafha has tried very hard to come across as an educated well spoken individual, but alas all they have done is come across as a person blinded by bigotry, and narrow-minded. In the end with all their talk they still had no argument that made any sense at all perhaps thats because there is no argument that will ever make any sense.

    • While on your little rant, society doesn’t get to trump the Constitution unless it clears MAJOR constitutional hurdles. For the record, the Supreme Court has already declared that gays are a legally recognized group in America and also that marriage is the most fundamental way a free person exercises his/her rights. Gay marriage is coming.

      Hey guess what? I used far less words than you to get to the point. Get over your heartburn now buddy. Change is coming.

  • Per kijafha above: “However, if one chooses to commit to a homosexual relationship, then that individual has made a choice to abandon a married lifestyle for a homosexual lifestyle and the option for marriage was not taken from the individual, but rejected by the individual”
    Blah blah, what planet are u from? You see, here in America, we decided to make our OWN decisions; we make our OWN laws as we see fit. Yes, if we WANTED to, we could make laws forbidding two people of different “races” (what’s that anymore?) to marry. But America doesn’t want that as law. Or, we could decide to make it unlawful for girls to attend school and be educated, like the Taliban. But we don’t want that as law.
    So yes, as America comes to the realization that we NEED to now grant respect and dignity and equality to LGBT couples who love and care for each other, which they’ve been denied for MILLENIA (unjustly), then we shall do so. Because we rule ourselves. Neither Pope, Pastor nor Scriptural “leader” of any kind gets to dictate what Americans think or how to make policy. (well, not overtly, anyway, ugh).

  • You know, I am really sick to death of the Republicans and all of their gay bashing. Their hate-filled caucus is full of liars who promissed the American people jobs and priority on fixing the economy and now all they do is waste everyone’s time going after the rights of LGBT Americans. In November of 2012, it will definitely be time to toss them out on their as**s! Now they are even talking about impeaching Obama for not enforcing the rotten DOMA, I say we should recall them for their crap, tell Obama, who has been much less than our fierce advocate, to get busy supporting Same-sex marriage and ENDA. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until January of 2013 for the Dems to be back in control of the House, and even then the Dems could lose control of the Senate.

  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, 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.”

    * * *

    Rep. Franks is a constitutional ignoramus. Refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act by no means constitutes a “high crime or misdemeanor” that the Constitution says are grounds for impeaching the president.

    Furthermore, defunding the Justice Department for refusing to defend DOMA would be an unconstitutional ex post facto measure that is strictly prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution — not to mention a clear act of congressional interference in the authority of the executive branch, which Article I does not authorize Congress to do.

  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, 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.”

    * * *

    Rep. Franks is a constitutional ignoramus. Refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act by no means constitutes a “high crime or misdemeanor” that the Constitution says are grounds for impeaching the president.

    Furthermore, defunding the Justice Department for refusing to defend DOMA would be an unconstitutional ex post facto measure that is strictly prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution — not to mention a clear act of congressional interference in the authority of the executive branch, which Article I does not authorize Congress to do.

  • I hope that gay groups and allies in Congress use this hearing as an opportunity to attack the real threat to marraige: divorce. Numerous studies have shown that conservative Christians divorce at a rate higher than that of the general population. The Bible Belt states have some of the higfhest divorce rates in the country while gay friendly Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest divorce rate. I’m disappointed that HRC and other gay rights organizations have not trumpted those facts and exposed the hypocrisy of the Christian Right. Divorce is the Achilles Heel of the Christian Right and it is time for us to take our aim!

  • Can I get a witness?? haha, well lookie lookie, it’s ms.maggie (to be a witness Friday). No surprise there: Defending her hometown from the evil gay people who are all around her! All this talk about budget deficits, and she’s still garnering a paycheck for propaganda? Is it still from Mr. Bush, Ms. Maggie? Or is it now from the Koch brothers. Not only is “the love of money the root of all evil”, but luckily for us, “the truth shall set you free”. Oh those wonderful, christian values… if only christians would read and then heed. Don’t be Pharisees and Scribes—- believe! Believe! :D

  • Washington Blade:

    What is your problem here? Why is it that my comments in favor of the gay community have not posted, yet you’ve allowed a clearly anti-gay poster, “kijafha,” to infect this site with his incredibly long winded anti-gay bias?

    Is this site run by smart gays or what?

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