In a conference call town hall held tonight with constituents, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), in response to a question about interstate marriage rights for same-sex couples, said that he "will be offering an amendment to prevent this administration from arguing in court against traditional marriage."
The Human Rights Campaign earlier in the evening had learned that Huelskamp was planning to offer such an amendment. Specifically, he plans to offer an amendment to a House spending bill for the Justice Department that would prohibit the agency from using any funds to oppose the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in court, as it has done since President Obama decided the 1996 law was unconstitutional in February 2011.
According to communications the organization is sending to House offices, obtained by Metro Weekly, the amendment could be proposed as early as this evening. Human Rights Campaign vice president for communications Fred Sainz confirmed that the email was being sent to all Democratic and "friendly" Republican offices.
"This is a blatant attempt at intimidation, clearly Rep. Huelskamp isa trying to intimidate the Justice Department into not opposing the indefensible and it should be seen for what it is," Sainz tells Metro Weekly.
Huelskamp, according to the email being sent to offices, plans to offer an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would bar the Justice Department from using funds to oppose DOMA.
Referring to same-sex couples being allowed to marry as a "strange new definition" of marriage, Huelskamp noted in the call with constituents, into which Metro Weekly called, that he helped write the Kansas marriage amendment earlier in his career.
Bolded in HRC's email is the line: "The Human Rights Campaign urges your boss to oppose this amendment and will consider this a key vote."
On Feb. 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to announce the administration's decision.
"After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation," Holder wrote, "the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President's determination."
Since that time, the administration has filed briefs in several cases challenging Section 3 of DOMA -- the federal definition of marriage -- and has sent lawyers to hearings to oppose the law in court.
At the same time, after the administration's decision, Boehner soon took action to defend the law. Convening the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group -- a five-member body of House leaders controlled by the Republican majority -- the body authorized the House counsel to defend the federal definition of marriage in ongoing challenges. The House BLAG brought on the services of former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, now with Bancroft PLLC, to defend DOMA in court.
Neither the DOJ nor the White House responded immediately to emailed requests for comment.
Watch Metro Weekly for more news on this development.