Lawyers for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group notified the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Friday that they plan to appeal the ruling earlier this week in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional [JURIST report]. House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy [official websites] of the advisory group are pursuing the appeal [AP report]. The advisory group's two Democratic members, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer [official websites], are not joining the GOP members in the appeal.
The district court's ruling is the most recent development in the debate regarding the constitutionality of DOMA and its repeal. The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] voted to repeal DOMA [JURIST report] in November, marking the first time a Congressional group has voted to repeal the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In a similar case this past October, a disabled Navy veteran filed a notice of appeal [JURIST report] with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims [official website] for denying her partner a share of her disability benefits under DOMA. The Department of Veterans Affairs [official website] allegedly told the veteran she could not receive benefits because her spouse was a woman. In March 2011, congressional Democrats introduced the Respect for Marriage Act [text], which was intended to repeal DOMA [JURIST report], but it has not yet passed. The Congressional action follows an announcement from US President Barack Obama last year that he would continue to fight for the repeal [JURIST report] of DOMA, and last year's announcement by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] that it will no longer defend the constitutionality [JURIST report] of Section 3 of DOMA in court cases challenging the provision.