Earlier this year the Department of Justice announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. However, the Republican leaders of the House did not feel the same way, hiring the law firm of Bancroft PLLC to defend the law. Initially they had signed a $500,000 contract with the firm for their defense of the DOMA. However that number tripled to $1.5 million in the contract that was finalized by the House on September 30.
Democrats on the House Administration Committee were not happy with the increased costs stating, “the original contract was a misguided promise to waste a half-million dollars of taxpayer money” and that “further spending to defend DOMA is simply unconscionable.” Spokesman Drew Hammill from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office also commented on the increased legal costs saying, “it is absolutely unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is tripling the cost for his legal boondoggle… to defend discrimination in our country.”
But House Republicans continue to defend the decision, arguing that the increased legal fees are necessary to successfully defend the law. They also point out that the law was passed with an overwhelming majority back in 1996, with 118 democrats in the House and 32 in the Senate who voted for it. Additionally, they argue that such costs should be passed on to the Department of Justice. The spokesman for Speaker John Boehner stated “the cost of the litigation should and will be borne by the Department of Justice, which is shirking its responsibility to defend the law.”
No matter who ends up paying the bill though, the increased legal fees to defend the DOMA will come out of taxpayer money.