Press Room

May 16, 2004

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President Issues Divisive Statement in Support of Discrimination in U.S. Constitution

'President Bush is trying to turn the camera away from the nation's foreign policy and economic problems,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - President Bush issued a statement today renewing his call to Congress to pass a discriminatory amendment to the U.S. Constitution denying marriage for same-sex couples. The president made this announcement amidst new polls showing decreasing support for his Federal Marriage Amendment and increasing support for fairness for gay and lesbian families.

"President Bush is trying to turn the camera away from the nation's foreign policy and economic problems," said Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "President Bush is attempting to lead this nation into discrimination. We will not let him hurt our families."

In a statement issued May 17, the day Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, President Bush said:

"The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges. All Americans have a right to be heard in this debate. I called on the Congress to pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. The need for that amendment is still urgent, and I repeat that call today."

"An amendment to the Constitution is discriminatory, unnecessary and undermines the Constitution," said Cheryl Jacques. "It's time for the President to work to unite Americans, not use the Constitution to separate some from the rest," she added.

Support for passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment has stagnated in the last several weeks. Opposition to the amendment increases when people realize that Congress has already passed a federal law denying marriage to same-sex couples and that a constitutional amendment would have to be considered not only in Congress, but in every state in the nation. An amendment needs approval by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House and three-quarters of the states for ratification.

"There's no compelling reason for Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution over something that has historically been a state issue," said Winnie Stachelberg, HRC's political director. "Putting discrimination in the U.S. Constitution is not a priority for American voters."

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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