ACLU Calls Newest Version of Federal Marriage Amendment 'Bad Politics,' Measure Would Still Write Discrimination Into the Constitution

March 22, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today called a new proposed constitutional amendment on marriage “a desperate political move” that does nothing to address the underlying concerns about the discriminatory measure.

“The latest proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to discriminate against gay and lesbian families is a desperate political move,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The sponsors of the amendment realized that they did not even have a simple fifty-percent majority, much less a two-thirds majority in either house of Congress.

“The latest draft won’t change a single vote in Congress,” Anders added. “The two principal reasons that opponents of the constitutional amendment have for opposing it are that the country should not write discrimination into the Constitution, and that there is no reason to amend the Constitution when the federal statute on marriage has never been invalidated by any court.

“There is not much difference between the two versions of the amendment,” Anders concluded. “The new proposal would still write discrimination into the Constitution, deny all states the right to decide who can get married in their states, preempt the state constitutions of the fifty states, prohibit such important court decisions as the Vermont civil union decision and the Oregon domestic partnership decision, and potentially jeopardize a wide array of other rights provided to gay and lesbian couples and their children.”

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), proposed the new language today. The draft amendment now reads:

”Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

The ACLU said that the new proposed constitutional amendment announced does not change any of the significant problems with the earlier proposed constitutional amendment. The only significant difference between the two versions is that the new proposal prohibits the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions from being used to provide “legal incidents” of marriage to gay and lesbian couples, but does not prohibit state or federal statutes or executive actions from providing those benefits.

For more on the ACLU’s opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment, go to:

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