President Bush recently called for a Constitutional amendment to defend the sanctity of marriage by "defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." As your Congressman, I could not agree more with the President on this issue. The President acted to defend marriage because a few activist judges and local officials have recently taken action to redefine a fundamental cornerstone of our society - creating confusion instead of clarity. These attempts to redefine marriage have come despite the fact that Congress has overwhelmingly spoken through the Defense of Marriage Act, and 38 states have passed similar laws.
An amendment to the Constitution is not to be undertaken lightly, but the preservation of marriage rises to the level of national importance.
· In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act to define marriage under federal law as a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife. President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law after it passed the House 342-67 and the Senate 85-14. In all, 38 states have passed similar defensive of marriage laws - demonstrating an overwhelming consensus for protecting the institution of marriage.
· Recently, activist judges and local officials have aggressively attempted to redefine marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court narrowly approved a ruling that will require Massachusetts to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in May. City officials in San Francisco have issued thousands of marriage licenses to same-sex couples - directly contradicting a California law, overwhelmingly approved by the voters of California, which clearly defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In New Mexico, a county began to issue marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender.
· Without action, more arbitrary court decisions, litigation, and defiance of the law can be expected. More than 200 years of American law and thousands of years of human experience should not be arbitrarily changed by a handful of judges and local authorities. As President Bush said, "Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity."
· The Constitution says that "full faith and credit" must be given by each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. Some advocates for same-sex marriage will argue that all states and cities must recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in America.
· Congress attempted to address this problem in the Defense of Marriage Act, which declared that no state must accept another state's definition of marriage. The Bush Administration will vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, but an activist court could strike it down - forcing every state to recognize any relationship that a handful of judges or local officials choose to call marriage.
President Bush called on 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 man and woman as husband and wife." This amendment should fully protect the sanctity of marriage while enabling state legislatures to make their own decisions about defining legal arrangements other than marriage.