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Gay Marriage Debate Moves to Congress

Rudy Giuliani was on CBS News this morning cautioning Republicans to stay out of the gay marriage debate. It looks like he’s a bit late. Last night, the House passed a Republican-backed bill that would prevent the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, Politico reports:

With a 245-171 vote, the House voted to stop the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to actively oppose DOMA — the Clinton-era law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that the Obama administration stopped enforcing in February 2011. …

Democrats immediately attacked Republicans for the vote.

“On an historic day and in the dark of night, House Republicans have voted to tie the hands of the Obama administration with respect to their efforts to end discrimination against America’s families,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said in a statement. “House Republicans continue to plant their feet firmly on the wrong side of history.”

Interesting timing, no? Actually the measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp and tacked to a broader multi-agency funding bill, appears to be completely unrelated to Obama’s announcement. Metro Weekly first reported on Tuesday – before anyone had any inkling about Obama’s gay marriage shift – that Huelskamp was preparing to offer the amendment this week.

Peter noted last night that Obama was smart to wait until after the North Carolina vote to offer his opinion – if he’d endorsed gay marriage beforehand, surely the narrative now would be that Obama’s position was rejected by swing state voters.

But Obama was also savvy to make his announcement around the same time the House GOP was set to vote on the DOMA funding amendment. Mitt Romney has already rebuffed questions on this issue, and, as expected, tried to shift the focus back to jobs and the economy. But House Republicans, the Obama campaign’s go-to adversaries, are already providing a prime contrast to the president’s newly-announced position.