FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON - Despite a resounding rejection of similar legislation last year, some lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment that would deny marriage protections to loving, committed, gay and lesbian families. The American Civil Liberties Union today denounced the proposal, and called upon lawmakers to reject-yet again - this assault on gay and lesbian Americans.
"Congress has already rejected this amendment, and it must do so again," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Discrimination has no place in our federal laws, and certainly not in the Constitution. That document exists to protect rights, not deny them."
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights met today to examine the proposal, offered by Senator Wayne Allard, (R-CO). It would amend the Constitution to define marriage as between "a man and woman" and would deny all "legal incidents" of marriage to unmarried couples. While this proposal is called the "Marriage Protection Amendment," it is almost identical to the "Federal Marriage Amendment" that was proposed - and defeated - last year.
Senators today heard from a panel of witnesses, including Dr. Christopher E. Harris, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In his testimony, Harris noted that the Pro-Family Pediatricians, a collection of over 750 pediatricians, has urged Congress to oppose any federal marriage amendment to the Constitution, citing concerns over the potential harm to children and their families.
The ACLU said that anti-gay activists would use the amendment's broad language to also attack same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. Similar state-level constitutional amendments have been used to undermine legal protections afforded to gay and lesbian couples and their families.
A similar amendment stalled in Congress last year when neither chamber came close to the required two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment. Opposition to the amendment came from unusual sources: former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), the author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, was joined by Vice President Dick Cheney, Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and others.
"With all the issues facing Congress right now, there is no reason to focus time and energy on denying marriage protections to same-sex couples," Anders added. "Hardworking, taxpaying Americans in loving relationships don't need lawmakers playing political games with their families."