Constitutional Amendment Would Ban Gay Marriage

July 12, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — An anti-gay organization “dedicated to promoting marriage and addressing the epidemic of fatherless families in the United States” today announced the launch of a campaign to add an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as “the union of a man and a woman,” network reported.

According to the online news services, members of the Alliance for Marriage, which claims to represent a wide range of racial and religious backgrounds, decried rampant social problems in the United States they say are largely caused by fatherless families.

The solution they proposed was a constitutional amendment that would declare: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

At an Alliance for Marriage press conference on Thursday, Victor Mendez of Alianza Ministerial Evangelica Nacional, the country’s largest network of Hispanic churches, said, “The institution of marriage is so central to the well-being of both children and our society that it was, until recently, difficult to imagine that marriage itself would need explicit constitutional protection.”

“However,” he said, “our country’s time-honored understanding that marriage is — in its very essence — the union of male and female has come under fire in the courts. And the time has come for America to put this issue back where it belongs — in the hands of the American people.”

A constitutional amendment such as this would require two-thirds passage in each Congressional chamber, as well as ratification by 38 state legislatures.

Neither Mendez nor other speakers at the Alliance briefing named any of the members of Congress they say have signed on to support the amendment, saying they did not want the issue “cast in narrow political terms.”

But David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian and gay rights, said his organization has found no evidence that there is any support on Capitol Hill for the move.

“The question that has not yet been answered is who is behind this,” Smith added, declining to speculate about the answer.

“Even though they seem to be putting on a multi-cultural face, what they are trying to create would cause a great deal of harm to gay people,” Smith said.

“The enormity of changing the U.S. Constitution can’t be overstated — this would be devastating if successful. It is our strong view that the Constitution will one day protect gay people and their families fully,” he added.

“With only a few exceptions, most of the anti-gay attacks in Congress are the legal equivalent of sticks and stones,” said Christopher Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“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,” and halt the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community’s progress toward full constitutional protection, he said.

Questioned this week about the Alliance’s campaign, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said the Defense of Marriage Act is already in place defining marriage in much the same language as the Alliance’s proposed amendment. Fleischer added that he had not specifically discussed the amendment with President Bush.

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