ACLU Cautions President Against Taking A More Extreme Anti-Gay Stance

July 30, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Responding to President Bush’s support for a discriminatory new law restricting marriage to a man and woman, expressed this morning at a rare Rose Garden news conference, the American Civil Liberties Union cautioned the President against supporting a constitutional amendment that would forever ban same-sex marriages.

“”With only a few exceptions, most legal attacks on gays and lesbians are like jabs relative to the knockout punch to gay and lesbian rights the President could be gearing up to support,”” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “”By trumping all local and state protections for gay or lesbian relationships, such an extreme move would deprive millions of loving, devoted families of their most fundamental rights in one fell swoop.””

At his news conference this morning, the President said, “”I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or another.”” At the same time, right wing activists are rallying behind a constitutional amendment being pushed currently in Congress by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who got in trouble earlier this year for equating homosexuality with incest and bestiality.

The White House has to date declined to endorse a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual arrangements and the ACLU, although dismayed that the President wants to shut the door to states that want to recognize same-sex families, urged him to continue to reject any constitutional change.

The proposed amendment, the ACLU said, would undermine state domestic partnerships, adoption, foster care and kinship care laws. Significantly, the amendment also would not hurt just gays and lesbians. It would deprive all unmarried couples of all legal protections for their relationships by overriding any federal or state constitutional protections and federal, state and local laws. In many states, unmarried persons — including unmarried relatives, heterosexual 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 take the extremely rare – and inevitably disastrous – step of changing the Constitution to restrict rights, a purpose that the founders never intended. The last time the Constitution was changed to constrain Americans’ liberties – with the 18th Amendment and Prohibition – the move was an unqualified failure that had to be repealed.

The President’s remarks also come on the heels of the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision striking down state anti-sodomy laws, which was based on a strong affirmation of a basic right to privacy in the United States.

“”The President’s stance belies any prior lip-service to limited government or the traditional Republican values of individual rights and personal dignity,”” Anders said. “”This is the government in our bedrooms and interfering with our families all over again.””

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