Outrage Over Bush Support For Gay Marriage Banby Doreen Brandt
Washington Bureau(Washington, D.C.)
Gay rights groups, civil libertarians and Democrats all expressed outrage over President George W. Bush's call today for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Saying that activist judges and a few local authorities have left no alternative to "protect the most fundamental institution of civilization" Bush called on Congress to pass amendment legislation. (story)
"Americans should be deeply saddened by President Bush's decision to support enshrining discrimination in our Constitution," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told 365Gay.com.
"Throughout our history, the United States Constitution has been used to expand freedom and fight discrimination. Today President Bush has chosen a path that runs counter to our nation's most cherished values of freedom and justice."
Furthermore," said Newsom "plainly speaking, I am deeply disturbed by the President's lack of truthfulness regarding his decision. The facts are clear: President Bush promised the right wing of his party that he would support this effort to codify discrimination in the Constitution long before San Francisco's decision to uphold the state constitution.
Since allowing same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses more than 3,000 couples have been married in San Francisco.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force called Bush's announcement "a declaration of war on gay America."
"In the face of this, the president's exhortation that this debate be conducted 'without bitterness or anger' is an insult to our families, our dignity and to our contributions as citizens to the life of this nation," said NGLTF executive director Matt Foreman.
"Marriage equality for same-sex couples harms no one. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has said, 'the history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.' Yet, the President calls for just that: separate and forever unequal rights for gay Americans."
"We should not write discrimination into the Constitution to score political points," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.
"This so-called modest measure is anything but that -- if adopted, it could lead to a dismantling of the protections that state and local governments have given to gay and lesbian Americans. It is the nuclear bomb of anti-gay attacks, forever wiping out most of the protections for same-sex couples," he said.
"As America has watched images in the media of thousands of gay and lesbian couples who have joyfully made formal commitments to one another, they have seen something President Bush has obviously missed completely: that true equality under the law is something that every American yearns for deeply -- and is entitled to, said GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry.
"In his nearly four years in office, President Bush has still not publicly uttered the words 'gay' or 'lesbian.' And he has refused to recognize the lives and families that would be so terribly devastated by his callous call to codify discrimination," Garry said.
Yesterday GLAAD media director Renna and her longtime partner Leah McElrath married in San Francisco. (story)
"Using the constitution to deny rights to same-sex couples is wrong and un-American," Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Mark Shields told 365Gay.com.
"History does not judge leaders kindly who try to deny rights to fellow Americans," Shields said
"Constitutional amendments have historically served to expand liberty and equality - such as giving women the right to vote. This amendment would be the first to reinstate discrimination in our Constitution, said HRC President Cheryl Jacques in a statement.
There is no doubt in my mind that the American people will see this as an ugly and discriminatory game of politics. Americans remember the president's promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Today, the president has broken that promise."
Lambda Legal said the amendment could take away critical rights and protections from hundreds of thousands of families nationwide and even block them from seeking such protections through the nation's centuries-old democratic process.
"Twelve days ago in San Francisco, this stopped being an abstract discussion when ordinary lesbian and gay people began getting married," said Jon Davidson, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal .
"Gay married couples are no longer a bogeyman that can be used to frighten the country -- they are real people with very real needs for the protections only marriage can provide, which the country has seen up-close for the first time.
"San Francisco didn't cause this; instead, San Francisco will help defeat any anti-gay constitutional amendment by continuing to show the nation that married gay couples aren't a threat and that nobody else's marriage is harmed when loving same-sex couples receive equal treatment," Davidson said.
"Not since the days of Jim Crow segregation has our nation faced the prospect of discrimination written into law in such a shameful way," said David Tseng, executive director of PFLAG.
"Millions of Americans are disappointed that their president, George W. Bush, has bowed to political pressure to support the codification of hatred into our beloved Constitution," Tseng said.
"President Bush fails to understand that our families are more than political red meat that he can throw before his anti-gay base," said Dave Noble, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director.
"The President has clearly demonstrated that it is no longer acceptable for our community to merely vote against this man. Each one of us now has the responsibility to actively work to deny him a second term."
Gay Republicans also denounced Bush's call for an amendment.
"As conservative Republicans, we are outraged that any Republican-- particularly the leader of our party and this nation--would support any effort to use our sacred United States Constitution as a way of scoring political points in an election year," said Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.
"Log Cabin Republicans are more determined than ever to fight the anti-family Constitutional amendment with all our resources," Guerriero said.
Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who opposes same-sex marriage but also opposes an amendment issued a statement calling the President's announcement "a sign of the desperation of the President's campaign for re-election.
"When the war in Iraq, jobs and the economy, health care, education, and many other issues are going badly for the President and his re-election campaign is in dire straits, the President appeals to prejudice in this desperate tactic to salvage his campaign."
Kennedy also denounced Bush's suggestion the amendment would not prevent states from recognizing civil unions..
"Advocates of the Federal Marriage Amendment claim that it will not prevent states from granting some legal benefits to same-sex couples. But that's not what the proposed amendment says. By forbidding same-sex couples from receiving "the legal incidents of marriage," the amendment would prohibit state courts from enforcing many existing state and local laws, including laws that deal with civil unions and domestic partnerships and other laws that have nothing to do with such relationships."
Related: Democratic Frontrunners Call Gay Marriage Ban A 'Cover-Up' For Incompetenceby Paul Johnson
Washington Bureau Chief
(Washington, D.C.) The two leading contenders for the Democratic Party nomination to run against President Bush in November accused the President Tuesday of using same-sex marriage to cloud the administrations failures to improve the economy, fight terrorism, and win the peace in Iraq.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said Bush with his call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (story) was attempting to divide the country rather than bring it together.
Kerry said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman but that a president should not "tamper" with the Constitution.
"I believe President Bush is wrong," Kerry said in a statement. "All Americans should be concerned when a president who is in political trouble tries to tamper with the Constitution of the United States at the start of his re-election campaign," Kerry said in a statement.
"This president can't talk about jobs. He can't talk about health care. He can't talk about a foreign policy which has driven away allies and weakened the United States, so he is looking for a wedge issue to divide the American people."
Kerry added that: "While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, for 200 years, this has been a state issue. I oppose this election-year effort to amend the Constitution in an area that each state can adequately address, and I will vote against such an amendment if it comes to the Senate floor."
"I believe the best way to protect gays and lesbians is through civil unions," he said.
Kerry's wife, however, has he own thoughts on same-sex marriage. Unlike Laura Bush, who last week said many people would think of gay marriage as "shocking", Teresa Heinz Kerry, campaigning for her husband in San Francisco said Tuesday that she believed the country would eventually move toward acceptance of gay marriage.
"I think with time and without a lot of politicization of this, we'll get there."
Campaigning in Georgia, where the state legislature is debating its own ban on gay marriage, Sen. John Edwards said he was against the president's idea of a constitutional amendment.
"I don't personally support gay marriage myself," the North Carolina senator said. "My position has always been that it's for the states to decide."
Immediately following Bush's announcement the Democratic National Committee put out a statement condemning the president's position.
"It is wrong to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution and it is shameful to use attacks against gay and lesbian families as an election strategy," said DNC Chairman Terence McAuliffe.