Pediatrician Speaks Out Against Discriminatory Marriage Amendment; ACLU Notes Measure Would Harm American Families

April 22, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – As the House Judiciary Committee today held its second hearing on the Federal Marriage Amendment, a prominent pediatrician testified against the measure, saying it would harm American families. The American Civil Liberties Union restated its opposition to the amendment, saying that such an extreme measure would enshrine discrimination into the Constitution.

“Will the proposed amendment support the welfare of all families and all American children, including those hundreds of thousands of children whose parents are gay or lesbian,” asked Dr. Jill Joseph, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center. “With all due respect, for me as a pediatrician, the answer is clear. The Federal Marriage Amendment will only hurt the well-being of children in this country.”

At the previous House hearing, the panel had heard from four prominent conservatives, three of whom expressed reservations about the Federal Marriage Amendment. Former member of Congress Bob Barr (R-GA), the author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allows individual states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed by other states, said that, “Part of federalism means that states have the right to make bad decisions – even on the issue of who can get married in the state.”

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment, which and would define marriage as the union between a man and a woman and would deny the “legal incidents” of marriage to any unmarried couple. The ACLU says that the Amendment would deny states the right to decide who can get married in their states and preempt the state constitutions of the fifty states.

The debate over denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples has escalated following the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the same rights enjoyed by straight married couples, and the city of San Francisco and other local government’s issuance of marriage licenses to over 7,000 gay and lesbian couples.

Just this week, supporters of marriage rights were handed a huge victory when a state court judge in Oregon ordered the state of Oregon to recognize the 3,000 marriages of same-sex couples that have already been performed in Multnomah County, Oregon. The ACLU, which brought on that case, also noted that gay and lesbian families – already denied equal protection – would be irrevocably harmed if the marriage amendment were to be adopted.

“This election year, some have chosen to use the Constitution to score cheap political points,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “This measure would adversely affect gay and lesbians, their families, and their children. These people are all part of the fabric that makes up America, and Congress should not discriminate against them.”

The testimony of Jill G. Joseph, MD, PhD, can be found at:

For more on the ACLU’s response to the Federal Marriage Amendment, go to:

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