The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group today sought to intervene, as expected, in the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and related laws brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of LGB servicemembers and veterans and their spouses. The intervention in McLaughlin v. United States comes after the Department of Justice announced in February that it would not be defending Section 3 of DOMA or the related laws -- found in the veterans benefits section of the U.S. Code -- in the lawsuit.
The move is similar to BLAG's action in a similar case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cooper-Harris v. United States, in which equal veterans benefits are being sought. BLAG, which is controlled by the House Republican leadership, has intervened in several DOMA challenges to defend the 1996 law after the Obama administration stopped defending the federal definition of marriage in February 2011, when Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder concluded the law was unconstitutional.
In a statement today, SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis said, "Speaker Boehner's request to defend this case in the wake of the ongoing harm done to military families by these discriminatory laws is reprehensible and callous."
Referencing a visit paid to the speaker's office by Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan, a member of the New Hampshire National Guard and a plaintiff in the SLDN lawsuit who also is battling incurable stage IV breast cancer, Sarvis said, "The Speaker has turned a deaf ear to the urgent pleas of CW2 Charlie Morgan and countless families like hers, who are living with the day-to-day realities of a military that has been forced to create two classes of service members."
Reviewing the filing, unlike in other cases brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the plaintiffs here are not consenting to the intervention by BLAG.
[Photo: The McLaughlin plaintiffs at the SLDN dinner in 2012. (Photo by Chris Geidner.)]
[CORRECTION: BLAG must file a motion asking the court to grant it intervention; the original story did not reflect this process.]