Press Room

May 12, 2004

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HRC: Defeated Supreme Court Nominee Advocates Tampering with Constitution

'It's no surprise that a man who was too extreme to serve on the Supreme Court now advocates enshrining discrimination into the Constitution,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - Defeated Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork was the star witness today at a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the discriminatory anti-marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"It's no surprise that a man who was too extreme to serve on the Supreme Court now advocates enshrining discrimination into the Constitution," said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques. "Judge Bork has a history of anti-gay rhetoric and an abysmal civil rights record."

In response to Romer v. Evans, which held that states could not prevent local governments from enacting or enforcing laws to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, Judge Bork claimed the decision was the result of "the newly faddish approval of homosexual conduct among the elite classes from which the Justices come."

The hearing was the third in a series of five in a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee that focuses on Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would deny marriage to same-sex couples. Rep. Musgrave joined Judge Bork and lawyer Jay Sekulow in testifying for the majority today.

Rep. Musgrave released a memo May 13 on the meaning of the proposed amendment's language. In the memo she admits that the amendment would prohibit courts from providing hard-working, tax-paying Americans any of the rights, responsibilities or protections of marriage (including hospital visitation, health insurance, family medical leave, etc.).

In her written testimony, Rep. Musgrave compares the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which overturned state laws prohibiting consensual sex between same-sex adults, to the Dred Scott ruling, which upheld slavery laws.

Sekulow also has a long history of anti-gay bias. In a 1997 fund-raising letter for the anti-gay American Center for Law and Justice, where Sekulow serves as chief counsel, he wrote, "[T]he homosexual agenda [is] a runaway train bent on destroying communities. οΎƒ Homosexuals are not only out of the closet, they are out to destroy the family as we know it."

"Mean-spirited extremists are fueling this discriminatory amendment," added Jacques. "The majority witnesses are a million miles from mainstream."

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., testified for the minority and strongly argued for fairness for same-sex couples. Rep. Frank was joined by Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Tammy Baldwin, Robert Scott and Melvin Watt.

Prior to the hearing, HRC joined leaders from religious and civil rights organizations in opposition to the amendment. Those organizations included: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

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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