June 01, 2004
HRC Urges Bush Campaign to Reject Shifting Focus to Discrimination
WASHINGTON - Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques sent the following letter to Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman, urging him to reject advice from conservative leader Paul Weyrich that the campaign should shift focus from the war on Iraq to writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.
June 2, 2004
Mr. Ken Mehlman
P.O. Box 10648
Arlington, VA 22210
Dear Mr. Mehlman:
I hope you will reject the advice offered yesterday by a leading conservative, Paul Weyrich, advocating for the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign to intensify its focus on passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment in order to distract from the war in Iraq.
According to an Associated Press story of June 1, 2004, Mr. Weyrich made the following comments:
"If [the President] wishes to be re-elected, then he better be upfront on this issue, because if the election is solely on Iraq, we'll be talking about President Kerry. ﾃ If he wants to change the subject - which if I were president I would certainly want to do - then I think he would be well-advised, in fact, to take the leadership on this particular point."
This kind of cynical advice betrays the American people's desire for a campaign that brings people together and encourages a debate about the domestic and foreign policy challenges facing our nation. Even worse, it further illustrates that the movement behind the FMA is not about "protecting marriage" but about partisan electoral politics.
I hope you will agree that the president should work to unite the nation around the issues Americans care about most, not divide us about the issues lowest on the voters' priority list.
Indeed, the American people have made it clear that issues like the war in Iraq, the economy and fighting terrorism, not changing the Constitution to discriminate, are their primary concern in this election.
According to a CBS News poll from late May, 70 percent of registered voters think that marriage between same-sex couples should not be a part of the election campaign. The same poll showed that only 2 percent of registered voters think marriage between same-sex couples should be the top issue for candidates to discuss, ranking well below the war in Iraq and the economy.
In addition, recent polling shows a clear majority oppose changing the Constitution to deny the benefits, rights and responsibilities of marriage for millions of American families.
I urge you to reject the agenda of extremists and, instead, embrace the agenda of the American people who oppose tampering with the Constitution and support a debate about issues that matter to them most.
Please feel free to contact me about this or any other issue of concern.
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.