Sorry this is so long, but I just had to. The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday a bill that restricts federal courts from hearing challenges from same-sex couples to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday a rare type of bill that restricts federal courts from hearing challenges to a law, in this case the Defense of Marriage Act. The 233-194 vote on the Marriage Protection Act (MPA) comes one week after the Senate defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex couples from marrying. Civil rights advocates immediately denounced the House vote. "This unconstitutional bill violates the notion of Equal Protection by excluding an entire segment of Americans from ever having their day in court," Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU legislative counsel, said in a prepared statement. "By making gay and lesbian couples second class citizens, House leaders are letting politics rise above the interests of the American people." The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest GLBT political group, accused the House of passing the measure in order to distract attention away from the 9/11 Commission's report, which was released Thursday and criticizes the government's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The MPA proposes to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and woman and grants states authority to decide whether to recognize same-sex unions that have been sanctioned elsewhere. Under the MPA, for example, a gay couple who legally marries in Massachusetts and then moves to Virginia, which does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions, could not appeal to federal courts to have the marriage recognized. Advocates for the bill saw it as a way to prevent "activist judges" from rewriting marriage law. According to Associated Press, the Bush administration supports the legislation. Gay Republicans called it an act of "political desperation" from the party's right wing in retaliation for the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment last week in the Senate. "Instead of amending the Constitution, they (GOP conservatives) now seek to undermine it," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. A companion MPA bill has not yet been introduced into the Senate. The last time such a "court-stripping" measure passed was in 1868, during the nation's reconstruction after the Civil War. Other such measures considered since then rarely made it out of committee because they were considered unconstitutional. The bill, H.R. 3313, was sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind.