The GOP House Reacts to Gay Marriage Rulings: From a New Federal Marriage Amendment to “Meh”

Barney Frank celebrates outside the the Supreme Court as the Defense of Marriage Act is ruled unconstitutional on June 26, 2013. Not to be found partying in the streets: House Republicans.

Photo by David Weigel

The statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on today’s SCOTUS rulings is remarkably mild.

The House defended this law, which passed with a large bipartisan coalition and was signed by President Clinton, because courts should determine the constitutionality of laws, not presidents. I’m disappointed in this decision, and the marriage debate will continue in the states.

Nothing on the merits of the decision—it’s just a debate that’s going to continue. That’s an evolution from the Cantor of 2004, the last election when marriage equality was a true winning issue for Republican candidates—then, Cantor tore into John Kerry for voting against DOMA and the “sanctity of marriage.”


It’s a total reversal today, with Democrats (like Barney Frank, in the photo I took today) partying in the streets and Republicans plotting strategy. At a “press conference” to respond to the court today, House Republicans read outraged statements about the court’s defiance of democracy—“The Supreme Court seems to be in collusion with the president and his Injustice Department,” said Rep. Randy Weber—but did not take any questions. Reporters were thanked for letting the Republicans “share our opinions.” Only Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a stalwart Kansas conservative who irritated the leadership when he opposed John Boehner’s speakership re-election bid, stuck around to talk. “I’ve requested language for a new Federal Marriage Amendment,” he said. His party’s leadership wasn’t leading that conga line anymore.

Read more from Slate’s coverage of gay marriage cases at the Supreme Court.