Senate Democrats Reaffirm Commitment to Killing Anti-Marriage Amendment

Fri. May 14, 2004 12:00 AM

Washington, DC - leaders of the Democratic minority in the U.S. Senate pledged they would block any proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage. The commitment was made at a meeting in the Capitol between the Senate Leadership Council and leaders of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"We are gratified that our allies in the Democratic minority have committed to killing any attempt to enshrine anti-gay discrimination into our nation's most sacred document," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This display of leadership stands in stark contrast to President Bush's calculated campaign to use our lives and our relationships as a wedge issue in the elections."

At yesterday's meeting, three senators - Chuck Schumer (NY), Barbara Boxer (CA), and Debbie Stabenow (MI) - reaffirmed the solidity of support against an amendment, regardless of any potential changes in its language.

At a similar meeting last July 17, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said Democrats would ensure that the Federal Marriage Amendment would never get the 67 votes needed in the Senate to be passed on to the states for ratification. Since then, however, the religious and political right has mounted a furious campaign in support of the amendment, President Bush has called upon Congress to pass it, and different wordings of the amendment have been floated to potentially soften its impact on domestic partnerships and civil unions. As a result, many LGBT leaders and organizations have become concerned about a softening of the commitment to oppose an amendment. To shore that up that support, LGBT groups have launched urgent fundraising and advocacy appeals.

"While the Right will continue to press Congress to move the amendment - and we still must be vigilant - our community can now start shifting focus and more of our resources to fighting the ugly tide of anti-gay initiatives we face in multiple states this November," Foreman said.

As of today, anti-marriage constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot in five states (Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Utah). That number could easily double over the next 8-10 weeks. Other imperiled states include the key 2004 battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Oregon.