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Constitutional Constriction
Prez Prays and Pitches Punk Power Ploy
by Demian
© February 29, 2004, Demian
Updated contacts: September 17, 2012


A weapon of mass destruction has finally been located. It is an amendment to our Constitution. It is wielded by a president willing to pervert the the Constitution — a civil rights document that is our national treasure — into a means of creating second class citizens.

The Constitutional Amendment
The President’s Statement
Against the President’s Position
What You Can Do
Less Effective Items


The Constitutional Amendment

“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this 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.”

The present wording of the amendment — proposed by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) — would affect not only the ability to be get a civil marriage in the U.S., but the phrase “or the legal incidents thereof” would also prohibit workplace domestic partner benefits, Civil Unions, as well as prevent the recognition of wills, powers of attorney and other legal documents between same-sex partners.

It does not appear to be enough for the U.S. president to erode civil liberties through the cover of a war against terrorism. He hopes to further enlarge the power of the Federal system, usurping the power of the states and of the state courts. He has demanded that congress restrict the rights of American citizens — for only the second time in more than 200 years — through a Constitutional amendment. And it would be the first time that the constitution would be amended to restrict the rights of a specific class of people.

The words and deeds of this president cheapens us all.

Here is the full, anti-gay, anti-marriage address from president George W. Bush:

The President’s Statement

Eight years ago, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-67 and the Senate by a vote of 85-14.

Those congressional votes, and the passage of similar defense-of-marriage laws in 38 states, express an overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

In recent months, however, some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage.

In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest court have indicated they will order the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender in May of this year.

In San Francisco, city officials have issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California Family Code. That code, which clearly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, was approved overwhelmingly by the voters of California.

A county in New Mexico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender.

And unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.

After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization. Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.

On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we’re to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America. Decisive and democratic action is needed because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country.

The Constitution says that “full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts and records and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

Those who want to change the meaning of marriage will claim that this provision requires all states and cities to recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in America.

Congress attempted to address this problem in the Defense of Marriage Act by declaring that no state must accept another state's definition of marriage. My administration will vigorously defend this act of Congress.

Yet there is no assurance that the Defense of Marriage Act will not itself be struck down by activist courts. In that event, every state would be forced to recognize any relationship that judges in Boston or officials in San Francisco choose to call a marriage.

Furthermore, even if the Defense of Marriage Act is upheld, the law does not protect marriage within any state or city.

For all these reasons, the defense of marriage requires a constitutional amendment.

An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern, and the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance.

The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.

Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

Today, I call upon the Congress to promptly 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 woman as husband and wife.

The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

America’s a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions.

Our government should respect every person and protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction between these responsibilities.

We should also conduct this difficult debate in a matter worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger.

In all that lies ahead, let us match strong convictions with kindness and good will and decency.

       — George W. Bush, president, February 24, 2004


Against the President’s Position

American Anthropological Association

Of course, the president is completely wrong about human cultures. Bush cast the union between male and female as the only proper form of marriage, or what he called in his State of the Union address “one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization.”

From the executive board of the primary organization representing American anthropologists, the 11,000-member American Anthropological Association:

“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

“Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.”

       — American Anthropological Association, February 26, 2004

The association’s statement added that the executive board “strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”

The statement was proposed by Dan Segal, Pitzer College anthropology and history professor, who called Bush’s conception of the history of marriage “patently false.”

Dan Segal:

“If he were to take even the first semester of anthropology, he would know that’s not true.”
Segal referenced sanctified same-sex unions in the fourth century in Christianity, to the Greeks and Romans applying the concept of marriage to same-sex couples, as well as to the Native American so called “berdache” tradition in which males sometimes married males.

American Bar Association

The nation’s largest group of lawyers said that questions about whether same-sex couples can legally wed should by settled by states, not by Congress or a Constitutional amendment. At its midyear meeting in San Antonio, Texas, the organization made a resolution:

“Resolved, that to preserve the authority of the states and territories to regulate marriage under our federal system, the American Bar Association opposes any federal enactment that would restrict the ability of a state or territory to prescribe the qualifications for civil marriage between two persons within its jurisdiction and determine when effect should be given to a civil marriage validly contracted between two persons under the laws of another jurisdiction.”

       — Resolution 103D, American Bar Association, February 9, 2004

Louis Weisberg, columnist
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to let our families and friends know the true status of gay relationships in America — that we are union-less. We pay equal taxes but are eligible for far fewer benefits — 1,094, to be exact. We have neither inheritance rights nor access to our partners’ social security or pensions. Most of us don’t even have the right to visit our partners in the hospital. And the national GOP wants to enshrine this oppression in the very constitution that guarantees everyone else freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve all heard the stories of German Jews who said nothing to their neighbors as the Nazis rose to power. Let’s learn a lesson from history and not wait until it’s too late to let the world know that we’re under assault from people who mean business.”

       — Louis Weisberg, columnist, Chicago Free Press, January 28, 2004


What You Can Do

Coming out

The single most effective tool at our disposal is the act of revealing our orientation. For instance: “Hi, my name is Max, and this is my partner Robin.”

With this simple act, we reveal we are gay or lesbian, and are a family.

Talk, Talk, Talk

The best counter to prejudice and ignorance is one-on-one education. Telling blood relatives, co-workers, and friends why we need legal marriage. Most do not realize you have no legal status, are not next of kin.

For a review of the main issues regarding legal marriage, please see our:
“Legal Marriage Primer”
Lobby

Contact senators and representatives with the reasons why we need legal marriage.

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 their debate is not one of civil rights, but rather of dogma. See our article which includes answers to arguments heard against legal marriage:
      “Most Compelling Reasons for Legal Marriage”

Lobby Your Representatives

E-mail the U.S. president:
      president@whitehouse.gov

All Congressional Contacts:
      contactingthecongress.org

U.S. House of Representatives - Locate Your Representative:
      house.gov/representatives/find

U.S. House of Representatives - Send a Message:
      house.gov/writerep

U.S. House of Representatives - General Information:
      house.gov

U.S. Senate - Locate Your Senator:
      senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

U.S. Senate - General Information:
      senate.gov

You do not need to be a registered voter to tell your representatives what to do.
However, you would be able to vote better people into office if you register and vote.

On-Line Voter Registration:
      rockthevote.org
Join

To support ongoing legal marriage efforts in your state:

See:
Freedom to Marry Affiliate Organizations
Legally Protect You Family

Your family should be legally protected by wills, powers of attorney, physician’s directives, and relationship agreements. These are the barest of supports, until legal marriage is available, and honored, in the U.S.

See our article:
“Legal Precautions to Protect Your Relationship”

Less Effective Items

March on Washington

Some have suggested another huge march. While bringing a lot of attention to an issue, marches do not have the persuasive power of the vote, of lobbying, or direct education.

Further, events of this type usually take a minimum of two years to plan. They involve raising large sums of capitol, applying for permits, as well as reserving equipment and services.

Advertisement Campaigns

Media promotions do not appear to change people’s minds. Society needs to know same-sex couples, and hear directly about their lives.

Also, unlike most advertising, there is no product to sell. The idea of civil rights, separation of church and state — or separation of so-called “biblical” law from civil law — are concepts impossible to impart in a sound bite. This kind of educational effort demands a more personal approach.



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