Though House Republicans appear willing to repeat Newt Gingrich’s disastrous strategy and bring the federal government to a screeching halt, Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican, would like to squeeze another issue into the legislature’s busy schedule: getting rid of Washington D.C.’s gay marriage law. We already saw the (failed) effort to do this from Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, but Jordan, the chairman of the the 176-member Republican Study Committee, has a whole new game plan.
Jordan’s first project is a draft proposal that would set up a referendum to overturn a year-old District of Columbia law recognizing marriages of gay and lesbian couples. The move comes as conservatives express a desire to move beyond a focus on spending cuts and expand the House majority’s legislative agenda to include social issues. The Supreme Court declined in January to take up a case aimed at clearing the way for a referendum to ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital. City officials have blocked the referendum on the grounds that it would violate a city human rights law.
Jordan said he expects the draft measure to draw strong support from House Republicans. He and other conservatives say they are weighing how best to promote the vote as an example of Republicans fulfilling a campaign promise. The GOP’s 2010 Pledge to America vowed that a Republican majority would “honor families, traditional marriage, life and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.” There is little doubt that the social policy measures Jordan and the RSC have in mind would face strong opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate and in the White House. Still, the idea of promoting such an agenda is gaining traction among House conservatives and possible GOP presidential aspirants, including former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., founder of the House’s Tea Party Caucus.
With House Speaker John Boehner already committed to spending millions of taxpayer dollars to defend DOMA in court, what’s a bit more of his energy wasted on keeping the gays out of the marriage business. Then again, given Jordan’s proposal has the support of Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Boehner would be wise to step cautiously: anything that woman touches turns into poison for everyone.