The Human Rights Campaign sharply condemned the
introduction of the Federal Marriage Amendment by Sens. Wayne Allard,
R-Colo.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; James Inhofe,
R-Okla.; and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. The measure, which was introduced
Tuesday evening just prior to the Senate adjournment, seeks to
permanently deny the right to marry, as well as virtually all other
forms of legal recognition to same-sex couples, including the most basic
legal protections. It further seeks to circumvent the right of state
legislatures and courts to make decisions on basic
government-administered protections, thereby forever denying
hard-working, tax-paying gay and lesbian Americans fundamental rights
and benefits such as hospital visitation, Social Security, inheritance
and health care benefits.
"Our Constitution has guided our nation since the inception of our
country," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "This is a
reprehensible misuse of the Constitution – a document that, since the
Bill of Rights, has only been amended sparingly and only to expand
individual rights and protections. This amendment goes much further than
denying the right to marry, it would also deny tax-paying Americans
things as fundamental as Social Security survivor benefits and the right
to visit a loved one in the hospital. These senators are engaged in an
exploitive and dangerous election year game that could quickly race out
of control, particularly when our nation is facing other critical issues
such as an uncertain economy, threats to our homeland, the safety of our
troops in Iraq and skyrocketing heath care costs. This point won't be
lost on American voters either, who overwhelmingly reject attempts to
use the Constitution for such a shameful purpose."
According to a September ABC News poll, only 20 percent of Americans
would favor a constitutional amendment denying the right to marry to
gays and lesbians. Thirty-three percent oppose marriages for gays and
lesbians, but do not agree with amending the Constitution. And 37
percent think gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.
Majorities of crucial voting blocs also oppose the amendment – including
women under 50, independents and suburban voters, according to a
bi-partisan Hart Research/American Viewpoint Poll in July.
"Any member of Congress who signs on to this discriminatory effort
should know that they're also joining forces with a group of extremists
driven by intense animosity toward gays and who are far out of step with
mainstream Americans," said Winnie Stachelberg, HRC's political
On the gay and lesbian families in Massachusetts who fought for the
hundreds of protections, obligations and benefits handed down by the
state through marriage, the Rev. Louis Sheldon, head of the Traditional
Values Coalition, had this to say: "It's a challenge holding back the
forces of evil," according to a Nov. 19 article by Salon.com. Evelyn
Reilly, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Family Institute said the
recent ruling by the state's high court brought back feelings similar to
those she had on Sept. 11, 2001. "I have to say, I felt a little bit
like 9-11, like a bomb had dropped," said Reilly, according to a Nov. 19
story by AgapePress.
"Congress should be looking at problems facing our nation, but loving
and committed couples who want to marry and raise a family together are
not one of them," added Stachelberg. "To compare a loving family to the
devastating loss to our nation on September 11th is beyond the pale and
no politician should align themselves with these types of extremists."
Passing a constitutional amendment is, by design, a complicated and
complex process. First the amendment has to be introduced as a joint
resolution in the House and Senate. The amendment must pass both houses
by a two-thirds majority vote. The amendment must then be ratified by
three-quarters of the states. An amendment in the House, which is nearly
identical to the Senate version, was introduced May 21, 2003, by Rep.
Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo. and currently has 108 co-sponsors.
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