ACLU Denounces Proposed Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment That Would Deny Millions of American Families Their Fundamental Rights

May 15, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Saying it would deprive millions of families of their most fundamental rights, the American Civil Liberties Union today denounced a new proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution as an unwarranted attempt to limit liberty in the United States.

“”With only a few exceptions, most of the anti-gay attacks in Congress are the legal equivalent of sticks and stones,”” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “”This amendment is the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb. It will wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples.”

The amendment will be introduced today at a Washington news conference. The ACLU said the new proposal would deprive the families of lesbians and gay men – and all other unmarried couples – of all legal protections for their relationships by overriding any federal or state constitutional protections and federal, state and local laws.

The ACLU said that the impact of the amendment would be extremely harmful. Specifically, the amendment would invalidate all state and local domestic partnership laws, including those in at least eight states and in more than 100 counties, cities and towns across the country. “”The extreme measure would even prohibit state and local governments from making their own decisions on providing benefits to their employees,”” Anders said.

During the presidential campaign, Vice President Dick Cheney explicitly said that “”people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into.”” He added: “”different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.””

The ACLU said the proposed amendment would undermine state adoption, foster care and kinship care laws. In many states, the ACLU said, unmarried persons – including unmarried relatives, heterosexual couples, gay and lesbian couples and even unrelated clergy members – have the same rights as married persons to jointly adopt or provide foster care or kinship care.

The proposed amendment would also reverse the tradition of protecting – not harming – individual liberty through constitutional amendments and of allowing states to adopt stronger civil rights protections.

“”The few amendments to the Constitution that have been adopted in the last 200 years are the source of most of the Constitution’s protections for individual liberty rights,”” Anders said. “”The proposed amendment, by contrast, would deny all protection for the most personal decisions made by millions of families.””

An ACLU letter to the House and Senate on the proposed amendment can be found at:

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