MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - July 18, 2006)
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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, in 1996, the United States Congress passed DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, and the idea behind that was that marriage would be recognized in this Nation as the union of one man and one woman. It was not the first time that the United States Congress had gotten involved in the definition of marriage. Indeed, Mr. Lungren had reminded us earlier today that the State of Utah and Arizona and I believe one other Western State, in order to join the Union, needed to define in their State constitution marriage as a union between one man and one woman in order to become States in the United States.
But unfortunately, since 1986, activist courts have eroded the intent of Congress, and so we come today on the House floor with H.J. Res. 88, which reads: ``Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.''
The purpose of this is to say that no governmental entity, legislative, executive or judicial, shall be allowed to alter the definition of marriage from one man and one woman, and it also prevents Federal courts from construing the Constitution or a State constitution to change that definition as well.
This, indeed, is the desire of the American people at this point. A recent poll shows that 69 percent of Americans strongly agree that marriage should exist between one man and one woman. The State Constitution amendments on the States that have passed them, which now numbers 45, average by passing 71.5 percent. Forty-five States, Mr. Speaker, have enacted laws about this.
Why is this necessary, then, to come back to the floor if the States are handling it? The fact is that there are great and deliberate challenges to DOMA in the United States Constitution. We can go back to 1965. The Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut discovered a constitutional right to contraceptive noted in marital privacy, and the Court in Roe v. Wade in 1973 decided that the right to reproductive privacy was applied to abortion, wholly outside the context of a marriage.
In 1996, the Court in Bowers v. Hardwick refused to create a right of sexual privacy for same-sex couples, but then, in 2003, the Court reversed itself in the Lawrence v. Texas case. In the Lawrence case, the Court claimed not to have gone so far as to establish a right to same-sex marriage, but then the State of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court prominently used the Lawrence decision just a few months later to do exactly that.
That is why we are here today, Mr. Speaker. This is not, as we have been charged, political pandering. This is not a frivolous exercise. Indeed, I certainly think this Congress, under the leadership of the Speaker and under the leadership of the President of the United States, has worked hard to address the issues of the day. We have worked hard in the war on terrorism.
We have worked hard in the situation in the Middle East. Indeed, as the President attended the G-8, the number one topic right now is, of course, Lebanon and Israel.
We have worked hard on balancing the budget. This House recently passed the line-item veto. This House has passed earmark reform. The Appropriations Committee, which has passed 10 out of its 11 appropriations bills, has reduced spending $4 billion by cutting out 95 different programs. We are engaged in addressing the fuel situation. We have passed tax reform which has created 5.3 million jobs since 2003.
We are very involved in the issues of today, and I will say to you that marriage is certainly one of the top-tier issues that it is the right and the obligation of the United States Congress to address, and again, not a battle that we have chosen to have but one that has been thrown back to us by the courts.
That is why we are here today, and we will have this debate, and I look forward to hearing from my friend from New York.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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