Press Room

June 23, 2004

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House Testimony by Long-Time Foes of Equality Underscores Discriminatory Motives Behind Anti-Marriag

'Featuring testimony by two long-time opponents of equality proves the argument that this is about discrimination,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - Today's testimony in the U.S. House by two long-time opponents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality underscores the discriminatory motives behind the anti-marriage amendment pending in Congress, said the Human Rights Campaign.
Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, once spoke out against allowing gays to be in the food-handling business and has vocally opposed equal rights for GLBT people, and former Rep. Bill Dannemeyer, R-Calif., who has compared the GLBT rights movement to Nazi Germany and called "homosexuality" a "tragic, unhealthy, perverse lifestyle," both testified today before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution at a hearing on denying marriage to same-sex couples.

"Featuring testimony by two long-time opponents of equality proves the argument that this is about discrimination," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Using the Constitution to deny Americans the right to marry would undermine the Constitution itself - a document meant to ensure our freedoms, not take them away."

The hearing, titled "Limiting Federal Court Jurisdiction to Protect Marriage for the States," also focused on H.R. 3313. The bill, introduced by subcommittee member Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., would amend federal law to remove from all federal courts the jurisdiction to interpret the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Constitutional scholar Michael J. Gerhardt testified on the unconstitutionality of Rep. Hostettler's bill, stating that if Congress prevented courts from being able to decide the constitutionality of laws, this would violate basic principles of separation of powers. Even the constitutional scholar called by the opposing side, Martin H. Redish, questioned the wisdom of the proposed legislation.

"This bill is not only an attack on same-sex couples, but also an assault on the independence of the federal judiciary," added Jacques. "It would undermine the separation of powers at the core of our system of government."

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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