Press Room

February 11, 2004

Category: Civil Unions, Domestic Partners

HRC Sharply Condemns Bush’s Endorsement of Constitutional Amendment Discriminating Against American

Discriminating Against Gay and Lesbian Families is No Way to Jumpstart Campaign President Has Gone Back on His Word to Be a Uniter, Says HRC

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today sharply condemned reports that the president, as a way to "to start the general election campaign on a fresh issue," is endorsing Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's Federal Marriage Amendment - a divisive and discriminatory amendment to the Constitution that would ban marriage rights for same-sex couples and could forever invalidate civil unions or other legal protections for same-sex couples and their children. Leading legal scholars agree that the amendment could forever invalidate civil unions or other legal protections for same-sex couples, like the right to partner health benefits or fair taxation upon the death of a partner - even if state legislatures passed them and voters approved them.

"To use the Constitution to discriminate against our families is un-American, shameful and divisive. The president should not try to jumpstart his campaign on the backs of gay and lesbian Americans," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques, in response to a Washington Post article.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the American people will see this as an ugly and discriminatory game of politics. Americans know that
discrimination is no 'fresh' issue and we remember the president's promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Sadly, the president has gone back on his word."

Jacques added, "The Constitution has historically served to expand liberty and equality - by abolishing slavery and giving women the right to vote, among other rights. This amendment would be the first to reinstate discrimination in our Constitution. This amendment could take away any state's right to make its own enforceable policy to protect its same-sex couples. Make no mistake, this amendment is neither compassionate nor conservative."

According to an ABCNEWS/Washington Post survey in January, a solid majority oppose an amendment barring marriage equality - 58 percent think we should not amend the Constitution but instead let each state should make its own laws on the issue. Also, key voting blocs - 59 percent of women, 52 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of those in the South and 60 percent of independents - all say that this should be a state issue.

"The President talked this weekend about freedom and protecting the minorities in Iraq. What about the freedom of the minorities in his own nation?" asked Jacques, speaking about comments President Bush made on Meet the Press. "With his approval ratings at an all-time low, this ploy is sure to backfire against the President."

The Musgrave amendment (H.J. Res. 56 S.J. Res. 26) could deny any state legislature or electorate from ever voting to pass their own state's domestic partnership, civil union or marriage laws. This is because under the Federal Marriage Amendment, courts could be barred from enforcing the legal protections that a legislature provides through civil union or domestic partnership laws.