Press Room

February 24, 2004

Category: Civil Unions, Domestic Partners

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

President Has Broken Promise of Being a Uniter, Says HRC

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today sharply condemned President Bush for endorsing a discriminatory amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban marriage rights for same-sex couples.

"To use the Constitution to discriminate against our families is un-American, shameful and divisive," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

"Constitutional amendments have historically served to expand liberty and equality - such as giving women the right to vote. This amendment would be the first to reinstate discrimination in our Constitution. There is no doubt in my mind that the American people will see this as an ugly and discriminatory game of politics. Americans remember the president's promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Today, the president has broken that promise."

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 explained that if the existing Defense of Marriage Act were to be found constitutional, it would still allow a state to enact its own marriage laws. The president wants to prevent states from making their own policy - this is hardly conservative and, in fact, quite radical," added Jacques.

"The President said he wanted to proceed with kindness, good will and decency - make no mistake, that is not possible. It is neither kind nor decent to discriminate against Americans and deny them critical rights," said Jacques. "Instead of pulling the country together to fight terrorism and meet our common challenges, the President is now working to divide the country with a long and bitter political fight over the Constitution."

"The President keeps talking about protecting minority rights in Iraq. What about those of us in his own country?" asked Jacques. "With his approval ratings at an all-time low, this ploy is sure to backfire against the President."

On the President's claims that he's "protecting" marriage, Jacques added, "The only marriages under attack are those of same-sex couples whom the President either wants to prevent from marrying or forcibly divorce by nullifying existing marriages."

The only such proposal currently before Congress (H.J. Res. 56 S.J. Res. 26) would not only deny marriage to same-sex couples but could also deny any state legislature or electorate from ever voting to pass their own state's domestic partnership, civil union or marriage laws. 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.