Press Room

February 09, 2004

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HRC Lauds American Bar Association Position Saying Congress Should Leave Marriage Policy Up to State

Amendment Pending in Congress Could Nullify States' Abilities to Enforce Civil Union Laws and Any Legal Protections for Same-Sex Couples

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today lauded the American Bar Association for taking a position that "the federal government should let states make individual decisions on whether to allow same-sex marriages," according to an Associated Press article. The ABA can now lobby against the Federal Marriage Amendment - a measure pending in Congress that could nullify a state's ability to enforce its own civil union law or any legal protections for same-sex couples. The amendment could wipe away a state legislature's ability to even pass enforceable laws that allow same-sex couples the ability to receive partner health benefits or protection from unfair taxes on a family home.

"Legal scholars agree that this amendment could take away a state's ability to enforce its own law - whether it be marriage, civil unions or even basic legal protections," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Some politicians are trying to say that the amendment in Congress would allow states to pass their own civil union laws, but that's far from being a legal certainty. Simply put, this amendment does not leave decisions about equal rights for families to the states."

If ratified, the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J.Res. 56/S.J.Res.26) would be the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would deny rights to group of Americans. Since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times. Those amendments have overwhelmingly been used to expand rights.

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