One of the most contentious issues of the pending presidential election is a Constitutional amendment to prevent legal recognition of same-sex partners. While purporting to target legal marriage, contracts such as Civil Unions and other domestic partner plans would likely be crippled or destroyed.
This Constitutional amendment is a potent weapon of mass destruction. This extreme action is meant to cut out an entire class of people from full participation as American citizens. This amendment would provide homeland insecurity for hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples. It is a manifestation of hatred against gay men and lesbians. [Please see our article Constitutional Amendment: Codifying Hatred]
All the presidential candidates have been asked about their positions on legal marriage in many written and broadcast interviews. The only candidates to strongly advocate legal marriage for same-sex couples are Democrats: Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio), Rev. Al Sharpton, and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Opposing any sort of recognition of same-sex families is the Republican Party, which has been primarily responsible for launching the anti-marriage Constitutional amendment, in spite of party rhetoric regarding keeping the Federal system from interfering with states’ rights.
In the guise of protecting the “sanctity of marriage,” and poised to support the amendment is the current president, George W. Bush, as well as his second-in-command, Dick Cheney. As legal marriage is a civil, not religious, status, it is difficult to find any logic in the use of the word “sanctity.”
Continuing to forbid legal marriage to same-sex couples does absolutely nothing to protect those who are married. It only prevents those who wish to be married from gaining legal status for their same-sex family.
Because legal marriage is a contract between the state and a couple — and not between the couple and any religion — it triggers an enormous list of benefits, rights and responsibilities that are completely unavailable in any other way. [Please see our Marriage Benefits List and Legal Marriage Primer]
None of our parents were required to ask the entire nation for permission to get a legal marriage license. Yet this is essentially what we are now required to do. In order to get treated the same as all other Americans, we need the support of a majority, which must include those of all orientations.
Over the years, polls have indicated a growing, positive attitude toward same-sex couples and legal marriage. [Please see: Legal Marriage Surveys]
State courts, have realized the importance of treating all citizens the same with positive rulings on allowing legal marriage for same-sex couples in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, and Massachusetts. [For the court findings, please see our articles Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
2004 Presidential Candidate Lineup
The following chart shows the public positions that the major presidential candidates have taken. (Links were provided here, then removed, when they no longer had a Web site.):
Green Party Candidates for U.S. President
While the Democratic Party has had platforms in the past that were pro-legal marriage for same-sex couples, they have yet to make it a pro-active issue. In contrast to the Republican and Democratic parties, the U.S. Green Party has made legal marriage, and civil rights in general, integral to their politics:
U.S. Green Party 2000 Platform
“We affirm the right to openly embrace sexual orientation. We support the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in housing, jobs, civil marriage and benefits, and child custody.”
— Ratified at the June 2000 Green Party National Convention
Although the Green Party Platform specifically supports legal marriage for same-sex couples, only Peter Camejo makes a supportive statement on his campaign Web site. (Links were provided here, then removed, when they no longer had a Web site.):
Independent Party Candidate
Previously ran for president under the Green Party.
There was nothing on his Web site regarding legal marriage, or other gay issues. Further, an inquirey to his campaign, regarding his positions, brought no response.
Quotes from the Most Family-Friendly Candidates
Dennis Kucinich on Legal Marriage|
Press Release: Kucinich Applauds Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage, Nov. 18, 2003
“As a candidate for president who publicly supports federal legislation for gay marriage, I applaud the Massachusetts Supreme Court for upholding the civil rights of citizens in their state by ruling it is unconstitutional for the state to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The historic Goodridge et al. v. Department of Public Health decision can light the way for equality for all Americans.|
“The effort by members of the Massachusetts state legislature to push a Denial of Marriage Act is a divisive measure. There must be federal protection for civil rights issues. Gay and lesbian couples should have equal protection under civil law. No state has a right to abridge basic rights to privacy. Separate is not equal.
“The right to marry is a civil right that should not be denied. I support federal legislation for civil marriage between same-sex couples. Civil Unions do not provide equal rights to LGBT Americans. According to a 1997 GAO report, civil marriage provides at least 1,138 legal protections and responsibilities from the federal government, including the right to take leave from work to care for a family member, the right to sponsor a spouse for immigration purposes, and Social Security survivor benefits that can make a difference between old age in poverty and old age in security. Civil unions are a kind of limbo with regard to governmental functions performed by both state and federal governments, such as taxation, pension protections, and provision of insurance for families.”
Rev. Al Sharpton on the Massachusetts Ruling for Legal Marriage|
Press Release November 18, 2003
“Today’s decision, while not going the full distance to fully and legally recognizing gay and lesbian marriage gets us much closer to the finish line. I applaud the Massachusetts court for having the courage to make the correct finding that all human beings should have equal access to civil rights and institutions, including the right to marry.|
“Today’s decision is a victory, but we will not stop until we have total victory in the form of equality for all Americans regardless of race, color or sexual orientation in every state in the Union.”
Carol Moseley Braun on Legal Marriage|
Response to Human Rights Campaign 2004 Presidential Questionnaire, July 15, 2003
“The concept of ‘separate but equal’ was properly rejected as inherently problematic by the Supreme Court in the landmark school-desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. While I applaud the Vermont Civil Union law, I am convinced that ultimately inequities will arise if there is one set of laws governing marriage commitments for heterosexuals, and another set of laws governing marriage commitments for homosexuals.”
Peter Camejo on Legal Marriage|
Campaign Web Site
“You know, the same percentage of people are gay and lesbian as are left-handed. Let’s try to figure that out. How can it be that a left-handed person can get married to another left-handed person. Left-handed people can do anything they want. I say, give homosexuals the same rights we give left-handed people.”
More pro-marriage quotes — from political, religious, and other sources — may be found in our article:
Quotes: Legal Marriage
Human Rights Campaign 2004 Presidential Questionnaire, July 15, 2003
Quotes from the Most Family UN-friendly Candidate
The Democratic Party has gone on record in stating its opposition to a Federal amendment. Individual Democrats, however, do not have a unified, positive outlook toward gay men and lesbians, and the families they create. So, unlike the courts in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, and Massachusetts — who have ruled in favor of legal marriage for all citizens — Democrats have not stood solidly behind legal marriage for all citizens.
The Democratic front-runner, John Kerry told the Boston Globe, on February 24, 2004, that he would support a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage, so long as it also ensured that same-sex couples have access to all legal rights that married couples receive. This, of course, would be impossible because separate is never equal. Any marriage alternative would not be recognized by any other state, nor by the Federal system.
“If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection,” said Kerry. He stressed that he was referring only to the state, and not the federal, Constitution. He opposes any amendment that did not include a provision for Civil Unions.
On the other hand, Republicans have been completely negative, actively moving to create a hostile legal environment, as well as a nation at war against diversity and homosexuality in particular.
The following statement from George W. Bush makes clear his anti-gay sentiment:
White House Press Office|
George W. Bush, November 18, 2003
“Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today’s decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.”
The court violated no sacred or legal principles. In fact, the court re-enforced a state’s constitution, which is one of the most precious institutions we have as a democracy.
Further, Bush has confused law and legal standing with the religious concept of sacredness. American law forbids taking any one religion as a basis for law.
Excerpt from the U.S. President’s Proclamation|
Marriage Protection Week Press Release - George W. Bush, October 3, 2003
“Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and my Administration is working to support the institution of marriage by helping couples build successful marriages and be good parents.|
“To encourage marriage and promote the well-being of children, I have proposed a healthy marriage initiative to help couples develop the skills and knowledge to form and sustain healthy marriages. Research has shown that, on average, children raised in households headed by married parents fare better than children who grow up in other family structures. Through education and counseling programs, faith-based, community, and government organizations promote healthy marriages and a better quality of life for children. By supporting responsible child-rearing and strong families, my Administration is seeking to ensure that every child can grow up in a safe and loving home.”
This document excludes single parents, extended family structures, those who are not “faith-based,” and same-sex couples.
Research has repeatedly shown that a loving parent is more important than if the parent is male, female, gay or straight. Children raised in gay and lesbian households fair the same as opposite-sex couple households.
Too High a Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting v.1
Too High a Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting v.2
Parenting Options for Same-Sex Couples in the U.S..]
Claims like Mr. Bush’s place same-sex families outside of the culture, earmarks them for disenfranchisement, and exposes his truly radical, right-wing nature.
Excerpts from a televised interview of George W. Bush|
ABC News, December 16, 2003
Massachusetts Supreme Court said that they were not, they did not feel the law was in a position to block gay marriage. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, are you saying you will absolutely support a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage and against gay civil unions?
George W. Bush:
If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that, and will — the position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they’re allowed to make, so long as it’s embraced by the state or [?] start at the state level. Let me tell you, the court I thought overreached its bounds as a court. It did the job of the legislature. It was a very activist court in making the decision it made. As you know, I’m a person who believes in judicial restraint, as opposed to judicial activism that takes the place of the Legislative Branch.
But you and Secretary — why do I get —
George W. Bush:
It’s just a throwback.
That’s right. Some of us are still —
George W. Bush:
Vice President Cheney.
Thank you very much. Some of us are still stuck back in the 70s and 80s. Vice President Cheney has spoken out in favor of civil unions. In the 2000 election, you said pretty much it was a state issue.
George W. Bush:
That’s right. Except and unless judicial rulings undermine the sanctity of marriage. In which case, we may need a Constitutional amendment.
And do you think that the “defense of marriage” law is enough then?
George W. Bush:
It may be undermined at this point. I also think it’s very important, on this subject, that the country be tolerant of people and understand people, but tolerance and belief in marriage aren’t mutually exclusive points of view.
Calling a court “activist” is the whine of a poor looser, of someone who does not like a court’s ruling. It is a weak attempt to cast a court ruling as being, somehow, wrong, that the court actually took the law into their own hands. This claim denies the court’s rightful, legal responsibility of interpreting law as well as maintaining a check and balance on the other branches of government.
If there has been any “activist” court, that would be the one that broadcaster Daniel Schorr said had made a “judicial coup” when it got Mr. Bush elected president.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) is widely thought to be unconstitutional and only awaits one state to allow legal marriage for a suit to be brought to Federal court in order to obtain recognition by the Federal system and between the states. This is why Bush thinks the DoMA law is not enough to prevent legal marriage for same-sex couples.
Bush further states he would support a Federal Constitutional amendment to outlaw the relationships of same-sex couples — not only if legal marriage was available — but even if the second-class status of Civil Unions was available and it undermined the “sanctity of marriage.”
Presumably, Civil Unions would undermine a “sanctity” the same way a legal marriage would — by recognizing the legitimate claim that same-sex couples are families, that they deserve the same treatment that opposite-sex couple receive.
And from the current president’s second in command:
Excerpt from an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney|
Denver Post, January 11, 2004
“What I said in 2000 was that the question of whether or not some sort of status, legal status or sanction ought to be granted in the case of a relationship between two individuals of the same sex was historically a matter the states had decided and resolved, and that is the way I preferred it”|
“At this stage, obviously, the president is going to have to make a decision in terms of what administration policy is on this particular provision, and I will support whatever decision he makes.”
“Everybody is concerned (that) recent court cases, in Massachusetts, for example, raise the possibility here that the Defense of Marriage Act that is already on the books, that has been broadly supported, may not stand the test, and therefore they are looking at other measures, such as a constitutional amendment.”
Cheney’s reference to 2000 pertained to a debate with the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut):
Excerpt from a Nationally Televised Debate|
Vice President Dick Cheney, October 5, 2000
“The fact of the matter is, we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s really no one else’s business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.|
“The next step, then … is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship. That matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.”
“People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want.”
It seemed to have slipped his mind, in 2000, that there already was a Federal law — DoMA — that defines marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.
Presently, Dick’s daughter, Mary Cheney, has been campaigning for him. As a lesbian, one wonders how she will be able to continue talking to gay and lesbian groups about voting for her dad, when he so clearly dismissed gay families.
With the presidential election at stake, Dick Cheney appears to be very willing to disregard state’s rights, cut out same-sex families from Constitutional protection, and jeopardize the legal standing of his own daughter.
Because legal marriage is a contract between the state and a couple — and not between the couple and any religion — it must be considered as any other legal agreement and be made available to everyone.
In many right-wing circles, the discussion regarding legal marriage never enters the realm of civil law. For them, it is a narrowly focused Biblical, or religious discussion. This means that the debate is not one of civil rights, but rather one that of dogma.
The best counter to prejudice and ignorance is one-on-one education.
Tell everyone how important legal marriage is to your family — your friends, relations, co-workers, and elected officials.
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