Quotes: Anti-Marriage Bills
Outrage Against “Defense of Marriage Act” and “Federal Marriage Amendment”
© May 23, 2006, Demian
“When one group is singled out for discrimination, it’s not long before other groups will be singled out, too. It’s the first time we see the [U.S.] Constitution in danger of enshrining discrimination against one party, one class, and to remain silent as a Jew is unconscionable.”
— Rabbi Craig Axler, Congregation Beth Or, Maple Glen, Penn., May 22, 2006
“This so-called Federal Marriage Amendment should really be called the Republican Right Wing Anti-Marriage Amendment. A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, domestic partnerships, and other efforts by states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law. It’s a vote to impose discrimination on all 50 states, and deny them their right to interpret their own state constitutions and state laws. A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry -- pure and simple. It makes no sense for the first time in our history, to amend the Constitution by writing discrimination back into it.”
— Edward M. (Ted) Kenedy, U.S. Senator, May 18, 2006
“Homophobia is as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid. This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about — our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.”
— Desmond Tutu, former Cape Town Archbishop, The Times, May 16, 2004
“Why should any state deny gay people basic rights — such as deciding on medical treatment or inheriting property — accorded to other couples in similarly committed relationships?“
— President George W. Bush, October 2004
“I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush. In the weeks ahead, let’s be optimists, not just opponents. Let’s build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let’s honor this nation’s diversity. Let’s respect one another. And let’s never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history: the Constitution of the United States.”
— Senator John Kerry, presidential candidate, July 29, 2004
“The Constitution should not be used to regulate social mores. Not only does it demean and dilute the document that is the legal foundation of our country, but as Prohibition showed, it doesn’t work very well either. Family law traditionally has been the prerogative of the states and that system that has served it very well.”
— Richard F. Barry, president, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
May 7, 2004
“Indeed, there is no moral reason to support civil unions and not same-sex marriage unless you believe that admitting homosexuals would weaken a vital civil institution. This was the underlying argument for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), which implied that allowing homosexuals to marry constituted an “attack” on the existing institution. Both Gore and Bush take this position. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have endorsed it. In fact, it is by far the most popular line of argument in the debate. But how, exactly, does the freedom of a gay couple to marry weaken a straight couple’s commitment to the same institution? The obvious answer is that since homosexuals are inherently depraved and immoral, allowing them to marry would inevitably spoil, even defame, the institution of marriage. It would wreck the marital neighborhood, so to speak, and fewer people would want to live there. Part of the attraction of marriage for some heterosexual males, the argument goes, is that it confers status. One of the ways it does this is by distinguishing such males from despised homosexuals. If you remove that social status, you further weaken an already beleaguered institution.
“This argument is rarely made explicitly, but I think it exists in the minds of many who supported the DoMA. One wonders, for example, what Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich, both conducting or about to conduct extramarital affairs at the time, thought they were achieving by passing the DoMA. But, whatever its rationalization, this particular argument can only be described as an expression of pure animus. To base the prestige of marriage not on its virtues, responsibilities, and joys but on the fact that it keeps gays out is to engage in the crudest demagoguery. As a political matter, to secure the rights of a majority by eviscerating the rights of a minority is the opposite of what a liberal democracy is supposed to be about. It certainly should be inimical to anyone with even a vaguely liberal temperament.”
— Andrew Sullivan
“This is a mean bill. It is cruel. This bill seeks to divide our nation, turn Americans against Americans, sew the seeds of fear, hatred and intolerance. Let us remember the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths self-evident that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and women the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say when people talked about interracial marriage and I quote, ‘Races do not fall in love and get married. Individuals fall in love and get married.’”
— Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“I rise in opposition to this bill and I oppose it with both my head and my heart. My head, because my brain and my legal training tell me that there are constitutional flaws in this particular bill. My heart speaks even more strongly to tell me that it is wrong. Wrong because in America, rights are not for some but not for others. We do not have one-half citizenship or three-quarters citizenship for some people and different kinds of citizenship for another. We treat all of our citizens the same.”
— Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“We need to respect the human rights of all these American families. We should not make laws which are based on an antiquated notion of what constitutes a family. This unnecessary legislation patently disregards the 14th Amendment provision that provides equal protection under the law to all Americans. I believe this legislation has been rushed forward with little thought and reason.”
— Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“H.R. 3396 is an unnecessary intrusion into the State domain of family law. It tears at the fabric of our Constitution.
“Historically, States have the primary authority to regulate marriage based upon the 10th amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has supported this constitutional right.”
— Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“Our country has just gone through 220 years without Federal law on marriages. Think about it. We do not have Federal a marriage license. People get married under State law.
“So why is this bill called the “Defense of Marriage Act?” It does not improve marriages, and it takes away States’ rights.”
— Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“H.R. 3396 outlaws something that does not even exist. It tramples over the Constitution. It flies in the face of States rights, and it plays into the hands of the radical right, those who are trying to divide our country by scapegoating gays and lesbians. But let us move beyond the bill’s numerous flaws and look at how it will affect American families. Let us look at what it will mean to my family.
“Last month my youngest son married a wonderful young woman. As friends and family gathered to celebrate their commitment to each other, the State of California also granted them the legal benefits of marriage. This bill, however, would ensure that another of my sons will never have the same options nor the protections that come with marriage. In fact, even the most basic rights of marriage that my youngest son already takes for granted, such as the ability to visit his spouse in a hospital, could be denied to his brother, denied because of his sexual orientation.
“Mr. Chairman, let us not reduce ourselves to being pawns for the radical right. Let us not turn the House of Representatives into a political convention for extremists. For once let us reject fear, embrace tolerance and move this Nation forward without leaving anyone behind.
“I urge my colleagues to defeat this really mean-spirited bill.”
— Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
The arguments against gay and lesbian marriage are essentially the same argument that we used to hear against black-white marriages. We had anti-miscegenation laws in this country. I have no doubt that one day we will permit in every State in this Union, and we will celebrate, gay and lesbian marriages. One day we will look back and wonder why it was ever thought controversial to allow two people who wanted to share each other’s lives in a committed, monogamous relationship to undertake the obligations and benefits of marriage, why it was ever thought that allowing gay and lesbian people to visit each other in the hospital or to share each other’s pension rights posed a threat to marriages of heterosexual people.
— Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
“As a matter of conscience, I am opposed to this legislation because I believe it is a blatant act of discrimination.
“What constitutes the family is an individual and personal decision. But it is for all a place where people find love and support. If that happens to be with people living together of the same sex or of different sex, if it happens platonically or not, if it happens that they find comfort and love and support, God bless them.”
— Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House of Representatives, July 11, 1996
Please see our articles
“Defense of Marriage Act” (“DoMA”) — Description & Text
“Federal Marriage Amendment”
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