September 12, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
House squelches recording of DOMA court arguments

Speaker John Boehner directed House general counsel Kerry Kircher to defend DOMA in court (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. House lawyer directed to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court has terminated the possibility of allowing a video recording of the arguments in one of the cases against the anti-gay law.

In a non-consent filing to the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group says it’s unwilling to participate in recorded oral arguments in the case of Golinski v. United States.

“Intervenor-Defendant the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives respectfully advises that it prefers not to participate in this district’s pilot project permitting video recording of courtroom proceedings,” the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group states. “Accordingly Intervenor-Defendant declines to consent.”

The filing, dated Sept. 9, is signed by House General Counsel Kerry Kircher, whom Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) directed to defend DOMA in court on behalf of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

In March, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted 3-2 on a party-line basis to defend DOMA in court after the Obama administration declared the law was unconstitutional and announced it would no longer defend the law against litigation.

The request to video tape the oral arguments, set to take place Oct. 21, was made by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White and required the consent of all parties to go forward.

Karen Golinski, a lesbian federal court employee who is attempting to secure health care coverage for her spouse, agreed to the recording, as well as the Obama administration.

Tara Borelli, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, which is representing Golinski in court, said the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group’s decision to squelch the recording of the arguments is “outrageous.”

“We believe the harm DOMA causes daily deserves an open and public hearing, as do the arguments put forth by those using taxpayer dollars to try to perpetuate this discrimination,” Borelli said. “It is telling that the proponents of discrimination are unwilling to subject their arguments to a full and public airing.”

Kircher didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on why he declined the request on behalf of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

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

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