House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE (R-Ohio) took a step Friday toward formally defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward Paul Ryan’s political purgatory Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt MORE took the action a week after President Obama instructed the Department of Justice to cease its defense of DOMA from legal challenges in court. The act allows states and the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages in other states,

Boehner had promised the House would act to defend DOMA, and on Friday he said he had convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a five-member panel provided for under House rules, to consider instructing the House's Office of the General Counsel to defend DOMA in court.

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group is a panel consisting of the Speaker, House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement MORE (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Because Republicans enjoy a 3-2 majority on the panel, they could vote to instruct the nonpartisan counsel's office to take legal action in behalf of DOMA. 

"It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy," Boehner said in a statement. "The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally — and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.”

Republicans have protested Obama's move to abandon defending DOMA, arguing that it's unconstitutional for the president to singlehandedly make that determination.

Pelosi vowed already to vote against authorizing the special counsel on DOMA.

"This legislation has long raised constitutional questions and has long been viewed as a violation of the equal protection clause," she said in a statement. "That’s why I voted against it on the floor, and that’s why I oppose Speaker Boehner’s effort to put the House in the position of defending this indefensible statute."

This post was updated at 4:03 p.m.