May 23, 2004
HRC to the White House: Debate the Economy, Not Changing the Constitution
'It is President Bush who is attempting to enshrine discrimination into the Constitution and voters will hold him responsible,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.
WASHINGTON - In a letter to Laura Bush about her comments on the same-sex marriage debate, Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques today encouraged the first lady to focus on the issues that the American people care about during this election year, rather than a divisive national debate about amending the U.S. Constitution.
On May 20, Mrs. Bush commented on the same-sex marriage debate, telling The Boston Globe: "It's something people should talk about and debate." Those comments were made three days after President Bush's public statement reaffirming his support for an amendment that would enshrine discrimination into the Constitution, denying our community equal rights for generations.
"I do not believe, at this moment in our nation's history, that the American people want a conversation about amending the Constitution on this issue," Jacques wrote to Mrs. Bush in a May 24 letter. "Instead, they want a discussion about the issues you care about most, like education. And they want more focus on the challenges that face America every day, from the cost of gasoline to our foreign policy and economic challenges."
It is believed the first lady made her comments on May 20 to soften the president's image on this issue and deflect the president's responsibility for attempting to change the Constitution.
"It is President Bush who is attempting to enshrine discrimination into the Constitution and voters will hold him responsible," said Jacques.
Text of letter to Mrs. Bush follows:
May 24, 2004
Mrs. Laura Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mrs. Bush:
Thank you as always for your leadership on increased reading in America. You can be assured that my twin two-year-old boys will have library cards the moment they're eligible!
I read with interest your comments about marriage for same-sex couples and I wanted to share my thoughts.
There is indeed dissension about marriage for same-sex couples in the states and in cities throughout America. We hope the events in Massachusetts helped more and more people understand that gay and lesbian Americans are simply trying to attain the same rights, protections and responsibilities that every other American family has. Indeed, we may have differences on this issue in the states for several years.
However, I do not believe, at this moment in our nation's history, that the American people want a conversation about amending the Constitution on this issue. Instead, they want a discussion about the issues you care about most like education. And they want more focus on the challenges that face America every day, from the cost of gasoline to our foreign policy and economic challenges.
So, while I understand that you and many others are grappling with ways to talk about the issue of marriage, I do not believe that a debate about amending the Constitution in a discriminatory way is the way we should start the conversation.
Thank you again for your hard work on behalf of our nation's children and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you.
Cheryl A. Jacques
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.