Tags: Constitutional | Amendment | Would | Halt | Homosexual | Marriage

Constitutional Amendment Would Halt Homosexual Marriage

Wednesday, 15 May 2002 12:00 AM

The text of the amendment reads: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

"Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose," said Matt Daniels, executive director of Alliance for Marriage. "But they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society."

According to Alliance for Marriage, the amendment's principle backer, the first sentence of the amendment prohibits legislatures from using marriage to describe same-sex unions, and courts from recognizing any marriage between members of the same sex.

The second sentence ensures that "the democratic process decides the allocation of benefits and privileges traditionally associated with marriage," not the courts.

Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., the primary sponsor of the amendment, said he was confident the measure would gain the overwhelming support of the American public.

"I am convinced that our nation will need to take the extraordinary step of amending the Constitution in order to preserve the legal status of marriage and the family for future generations," Shows said. "The Federal Marriage Amendment embodies some of the most deeply held values of the American people.

"These values transcend political boundaries in the same way that they transcend all racial, cultural and religious lines," Shows said.

The introduction of the amendment drew immediate criticism from American Civil Liberties Union.

"With only a few exceptions, most of the anti-gay attacks in Congress are the legal equivalent of sticks and stones," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "This amendment is the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

"It will wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples," he said.

Anders added that the amendment would limit the power of states, counties, cities and towns to create their own laws on domestic partnership issues.

"The extreme measure would even prohibit state and local governments from making their own decisions on providing benefits to their employees," he said.

Shows maintained the amendment would only take power from the federal and state Supreme Courts, and give power to local municipalities to decide on issues of domestic partnerships.

"The Federal Marriage Amendment is a reasonable and measured response to an ongoing and accelerating abuse of power by the American courts," Shows said. "It leaves to the people, through their elected state legislatures, not the unelected courts, the right to determine who can receive benefits traditionally associated with marriage."

George Getz, spokesman for the Libertarian Party, said Congress had no business amending the Constitution.

"The impulse of Democrats and Republicans to amend the Constitution so promiscuously poses a greater threat to Americans' freedom than a couple of gay people getting married," Getz said. "Besides, isn't listening to Capitol Hill politicians lecture us about the sanctity of marriage a bit like listening to Mike Tyson praise the virtue of chivalry? These people aren't exactly moral paragons."

Cosponsoring the bill are Reps. Dave Phelps, D-Ill., Ralph Hall, D-Texas, Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Chris Cannon, R-Utah.

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The text of the amendment reads: Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal...
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2002-00-15
Wednesday, 15 May 2002 12:00 AM
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