Press Room

May 31, 2004

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President Bush Plays Politics with Discriminatory Amendment

'It's reprehensible for the president to try to use a discriminatory amendment for political purposes,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - In an effort to draw out his extremist political base, President Bush on May 26 again re-affirmed his support for a discriminatory amendment to the U.S. Constitution, calling on them to "insist to members of Congress, for starts, that a constitutional process is necessary for the country." During an interview with religion reporters and editors, the president also underscored the lack of groundswell support for the proposed anti-marriage amendment.

"It's reprehensible for the President to try to use a discriminatory amendment for political purposes," said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques. "In the same breath he's saying he needs Americans to be pushing discrimination to their members of Congress, he's also saying this issue shouldn't be politicized. The President should be focusing on voters' priorities - like the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs - not asking them to overlook these matters for the sake of a divisive amendment."

According to a May 20-23, 2004, CBS News poll, 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.

"As the President tries to motivate his base, we also have to make sure that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is motivated," added Jacques. "Just one language change could make an amendment much more palatable to some members of Congress. They need to hear that we will not stand for discrimination under any circumstances."

HRC Meetups - local gatherings to fight the discriminatory constitutional amendment - are held the fourth Tuesday of every month in more than 100 communities across the country.

Relevant portions of the transcript, available at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/121/51.0.html, follow:

Q: What are you doing to defend traditional marriage?

A: Well, first of all, I took a strong stand publicly, laid out a constitutional amendment, which in itself becomes a benchmark for people to rally around - in itself was a statement from the presidency that says the country has an alternative to that which they're seeing on their TV screens. And I will continue to explain why I did what I did. テ But in order for a constitutional amendment to go forward people have to speak. Now, I'll be glad to lend my voice, but it's going to require more than one voice. It's going to require people from around the country to insist to members of Congress for starters, that a constitutional amendment process is necessary for the country. The end result is necessary. But the idea of giving people a chance to express themselves is a very important part of the constitutional process. テ I will tell you the prairie fire necessary to get an amendment passed is simmering at best. I think it's an accurate way of describing it. Father Richard and I had a long discussion during my decision-making process, and I'm not sure people quite understand the issue yet.

Look, this is like saying, "How do you spread love?" [Or] "Mr. President, what are you relying upon? Are you relying upon government or do you want to rely upon people?" I think, yes, I mean I think people need to understand that if DOMA - the Defense of Marriage Act - was to crater that people could take a marriage license from one state and use it in another state and all of a sudden you now have de facto [gay] marriage. And my judgment is the American people don't want that. But I don't think they quite understand that which is happening in Massachusetts. テ It can affect their life. I've explained that several times on camera. It's going to require a lot more than a single voice explaining the issue is the best way to put it.

Let me say one other thing about the issue of marriage. It's essential that those who articulate the position that defends traditional marriage as the only definition of marriage do so in a compassionate way. I like to quote [from the Bible's book of] Matthew, that you know, I'm not going to try to take a speck out of your eye when I've got a log in my own. You know what I'm saying. And therefore, this dialogue needs to be a dialogue worthy of a nation and worthy of a debate over a constitutional amendment. And it's a very important discussion. And it's one that should not be politicized. It should be debated in a very profound way. Politicized means, put it in a context of a real process which to me will change the debate from where it needs to be. You don't want people making up their mind whether or not this benefits a candidate or not. You want people making up their mind on this issue about whether it benefits America - in the long term for America, I think is the best way to put it.

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.

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