HRC Denounces Introduction Of Federal Antigay Constitutional Amendment

On May 15th, The Human Rights Campaign condemned the introduction of
an anti-gay constitutional amendment in Congress that would preclude
recognition of same-sex marriages and prevents courts from requiring that
marital benefits be conferred on unmarried couples. The amendment could
deprive gay families of fundamental protections such as hospital visitation
rights, inheritance rights and health care benefits, says HRC.

"The U.S. Constitution is a revered document and should not be used for
cynical election year posturing. This amendment is designed to create a
divisive anti-gay wedge issue," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch.
"At a time when not a single gay couple can marry in any state of this
nation, and as our country faces much larger challenges, this is hardly the
kind of sideshow anyone needs. In the America ultimately envisioned by the
U.S. Constitution, no family should be left behind."

The House and Senate introduction of the "Federal Marriage
Amendment" was announced at a press conference today by a group of religious
political activists known as the Alliance for Marriage. HRC currently
understands there to be six House co-sponsors – 3 Democrats and 3
Republicans.

House co-sponsors of the proposed constitutional amendment are Reps.
Ralph Hall, D-Texas; David Phelps, D-Ill.; Chris Cannon, R-Utah; Sue
Myrick, R-N.C.; Jo Ann Davis, R-Va. and Ronnie Shows, D-Miss.

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a
man and a woman," reads the proposed amendment. "Neither this constitution
or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be
construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be
conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

On July 13, 2001, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said in the Omaha
World-Herald that he would oppose a federal amendment.

"I don't think the Constitution was ever written and set up for
those kinds of amendments," Hagel said. "I think those kinds of issues are
better left to the states."

Passing a constitutional amendment requires two-thirds of both
houses of Congress voting in favor of the amendment. If this is
accomplished, then three-fourths of the states must ratify the
constitutional amendment before it takes effect.

"Our opponents face significant built-in constitutional obstacles in
their attempt to get this amendment enacted, so we must put this threat in
its proper context," said Birch. "The amendment currently has little support
and is nowhere near passage, but we must remain ever-vigilant and work with
our allies in Congress to ensure the Constitution continues to represent all
Americans."

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