MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - September 30, 2004)
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Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this proposed constitutional amendment. As lawmakers, our responsibility is to preserve the rights and dignity of all Americans. That leaves me to oppose this constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.
I support the right of a State or local jurisdiction to give gay and lesbian couples equal marriage rights under the law. This proposal is an unnecessary and divisive attack on the gay and lesbian community. It would dictate that communities deny the equal provision of rights, benefits and responsibilities of partnership for gay and lesbian couples.
This is an unparalleled attempt to force discrimination against a group of Americans. It is antithetical to other constitutional amendments that expand rights for women and African-Americans.
Mr. Speaker, the Constitution exists to protect our rights, not to take them away. This amendment would be the first, and only, amendment to set aside one group of Americans, giving them fewer rights than other Americans. Additionally, it would strip them of rights currently given them by several States.
Gay and lesbian couples deserve to have their commitment honored with the same rights to insurance, health care authority and visitation, adoption and other benefits granted to committed couples.
I thought the days of enshrining discrimination in our laws were long behind us. A century ago, women were unable to file for divorce and could not have owned property. What if we had enshrined that discrimination for all time? Within the last 40 years, interracial marriages were outlawed. Imagine if that had been formalized in the Constitution.
This complete disregard for human rights is not necessary to protect religious freedom in our country either. No church or other house of worship is required to marry couples of the same gender.
The role of the Federal Government in defining the institution of marriage has historically been a limited one, deferring to States and religious organizations. So this is a cruel and callous attempt to disenfranchise a group of Americans for political gain. It calls for the discrimination of a group in a document almost exclusively devoted to protecting and expanding the rights of Americans.
I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment and this attempt to insert bigotry into our Constitution.