By Jake Sherman
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Republicans have been “irresponsible” in choosing to defend the federal law that defines marriage as between a man and woman.
“The behavior of the Republicans in the House of Representatives on this subject has been so irresponsible,” Pelosi said Wednesday after the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pelosi, a long-time advocate of gay rights, attended the Supreme Court arguments Wednesday and said she feels “pretty good” that the court would strike down the law. She correctly predicted in 2012 that the high court would uphold the health care law, which she shepherded through the House.
House Republicans have said they decided to fund court efforts to defend DOMA because President Barack Obama’s Justice Department will not enforce the law.
“A law’s constitutionality is determined by the courts — not by the Department of Justice,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “As long as the Obama administration refuses to exercise its responsibility, we will.”
The court case comes as a growing number of red-state Senate Democrats are emerging as supporters of the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is the latest, telling the News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C., that “we should not tell people who they can love or who they can marry.”
Asked directly about the flood of Democrats expressing support for gay marriage, Pelosi said “ignorance is fading” and lawmakers feel more comfortable to express support for same-sex marriage.
“Many more family members have come forward, whether it’s somebody’s sister, brother, cousin, uncle, mother, father, whatever it is, have come forward as to their interest in marriage equality,” Pelosi said. “And that’s been translated into our popular culture, whether it’s TV or movies or whatever, and so we’re at a different place. And so it’s a generational change as well. You look at these statistics and you’ll see a generation gap in terms of approval of marriage equality.”