ACLU Criticizes House Committee for Voting to Violate The Constitution On Same Day that Senate Votes Against Amending Founding Charter

July 14, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed disappointment with a House attempt to legislate discrimination through a court stripping measure. Recognizing that they lack the votes to pass the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment, House leadership is now focusing on slamming shut federal courthouse doors to gay and lesbian couples.

“Majority Leader Delay knows that he doesn’t have the votes to pass the marriage amendment, but he is still determined to force a vote on the denial of marriage rights,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “On the very same day that the Senate voted against amending the Constitution, the House Judiciary Committee voted to violate the founding charter. Instead of playing politics with the private lives of hard-working American families, Congress should focus its attention on the real problems facing Americans.”

The Marriage Protection Act (H.R. 3313) would deny the Supreme Court and all other federal courts the ability to consider any challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act. It would deny gay and lesbian couples the right to even have their day in federal court, thereby violating both the Equal Protection Clause and the separation of powers principle. The Marriage Protection Act was adopted today by the House Judiciary Committee on a near party-line vote.

Earlier today, the Senate strongly rejected the Federal Marriage Amendment. The supporters of the constitutional amendment had only 48 votes on a key procedural motion, which is far less than the 67 votes needed to pass the amendment. While Majority Leader Delay has indicated that a vote on the constitutional amendment in the House will have to wait at least until September, he is pushing to quickly put the issue of marriage equality before the House. The Marriage Protection Act could end up on the floor as early as next week.

“This court-stripping measure seeks to stop the judicial branch from doing its job and to shut the door to married gay and lesbian couples who deserve their day in court,” Anders added. “The Senate rejected the discriminatory marriage amendment, and the House should also reject these stealth attempts to legislate discrimination.”

The ACLU’s letter on the Marriage Protection Act can be found at:
/node/20844

More on the ACLU’s response to the Federal Marriage Amendment can be found at:
/marriageamendment

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