House Speaker John Boehner is launching a legal group to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
The Obama administration refuses to defend the law, which is the root of two court cases.
Boehner said he would gather a group of bipartisan lawmakers that have the authority to instruct the House counsel to represent the chamber in court.
"The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts -- not by the president unilaterally," the Ohio Republican said in a statement Friday. "This action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution."
The panel includes Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
The White House declined to comment on Boehner's announcement.
Boehner said he was convening the panel "for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law."
*Originally broadcast on March 4, 2011.