Press Room

January 03, 2004

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HRC Denounces Remarks by President as Divisive and Discriminatory

'It is Always Wrong to Use the U.S. Constitution to Discriminate Against Any American'

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign denounced remarks by the President during tonight's State of the Union address as being divisive and discriminatory. Although not explicitly endorsing an amendment denying marriage for same-sex couples, the President came dangerously close in his remarks to supporting efforts to write discrimination into the Constitution. The President also misrepresented the proper role of the courts in protecting rights and freedoms by criticizing "activist judges."

"In more than 200 hundred years of American history the Constitution has never been amended to deny basic rights and responsibilities. It is always wrong to use the Constitution to discriminate against any American. The Constitution should never be used to deny fundamental rights like the ability to visit a partner in the hospital, or the protection of Social Security Survivor benefits," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

She continued, "The bottom line is that gay Americans live in more than 99 percent of the counties in this country, and more than one million children in this country are being raised by same-sex couples. Those families and children deserve the rights and protections of marriage, and we are deeply disappointed that the President used the State of the Union address to attack our families and divide the country. Tonight, the President missed an opportunity to discuss issues that bring the nation together, like combating hate violence and ending employment discrimination.

The courts have long played a key role in helping to ensure that all Americans enjoy equality under the law even when it has run contrary to popular opinion. For example, Brown vs. the Board of Education, which ended 'separate but equal,' and Loving vs. Virginia which knocked down interracial marriage bans were both controversial in their time, but today we know that the courts did the right thing."

A December, Gallup Poll showed voters top priorities in the upcoming election are the economy, the war and the jobless rate. While this is an issue that Americans are debating, it is not something that most voters will go to the polls on.

On Sunday, Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie acknowledged that "a lot of Conservatives are divided over the question of a constitutional amendment." In fact, leaders and pundits, including former Sen. Alan Simpson, David Horowitz, William Safire, and even former Rep. Bob Barr, who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, have all expressed strong opposition to amending the constitution calling it "reckless," and "divisive."

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