ACLU Rebukes President Bush’s Support for Federal Marriage Amendment, Says Proposal Would Write Discrimination Into the Constitution

June 5, 2006 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today strongly condemned President Bush for publicly supporting a proposal to amend the Constitution to deny marriage protections to gay and lesbian couples and their children. Both houses of Congress overwhelmingly rejected a similar Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, and the Senate is expected to consider the proposal on Wednesday.

“The Federal Marriage Amendment is neither compassionate nor conservative,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Lawmakers rightly rejected it in 2004, but election year politics and Republicans pandering to their base have resurrected this mean-spirited amendment. Congress must — and will — reject this anti-family proposal again. Discrimination has no place in America, and certainly not in our founding document.”

The Federal Marriage Amendment, offered by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), would amend the Constitution to deny states the ability to define marriage themselves – mandating that marriage be only between one man and one woman – and would deny all benefits of marriage to all unmarried couples. It is identical to the proposed constitutional amendment that was considered – and rejected – by Congress in 2004.

If adopted, the amendment’s broad language would attack marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other legal protections for gay and lesbian American families. Similar state-level constitutional amendments have already been used to undermine important protections for gay and lesbian couples and their families, such as health insurance and other benefits.

Opposition to the amendment has come from a diverse crowd, including conservative sources: former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), the author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Senator John Danforth (R-MO), columnist George Will, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and others have all spoken out against the measure.

The Senate will likely vote on Wednesday on whether to invoke “cloture,” or limit debate, on the amendment. Even proponents of the measure agree that support for Federal Marriage Amendment falls short of even a simple 51-vote majority, far less than the 67 votes needed to amend the Constitution.

“President Bush underestimates the goodness of Americans by once again pushing divide and conquer politics;” said Christopher Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Personal decisions on marriage and family should be made in each family’s house, not in the White House. America – and all Americans – deserve better from their president.”

To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with the Federal Marriage Amendment, go to: www.aclu.org/marriageamendment

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