A lawsuit filed by US Republicans says that gay people do not need the same level of legal protection accorded to other minorities because they are “not politically powerless”.

The lawsuit was filed on Friday in San Francisco’s U.S. District Court as a response to a case regarding the Defence of Marriage Act.

Karen Golinski, a federal employee, says the government’s refusal to provide her female spouse with health benefits is wrong and that the Defence of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

However, Associated Press reports that lawyers for the US House of Representative’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group say that DOMA is constitutional under a lower court standard because gays and lesbians do not meet the requirements for groups which receive heightened protection from discrimination.

Urging the court not to rule in Ms Golinksi’s favour, they wrote: “A spate of recent news stories only confirms the conclusion that homosexuals are far from politically powerless. Accordingly, gays and lesbians cannot be labelled `politically powerless’ without draining that phrase of all meaning.”

The Defence of Marriage Act states that federal recognition of marriage is restricted to heterosexual couples, thus barring gay couples from a number of rights and benefits.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the controversial law.

The House of Representative’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group said it would step in to defend the legislation in court.