MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - September 30, 2004)
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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.J. Res. 106, the Marriage Protection Amendment. Passage of this resolution will not protect marriage, and I am concerned it will create the opposite effect of what its proponents seek to accomplish.
Let me first state that I believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. I strongly support the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996.
Second, marriage is an issue that our Founding Fathers wisely left to the states. Article X of the Constitution states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
No Congress ever has seen fit to amend the Constitution to address any issue related to marriage. No Constitutional Amendment was needed to ban polygamy or bigamy, nor was a Constitutional Amendment needed to set a uniform age of majority to ban child marriages.
So why do proponents argue that we must take this unprecedented step now to ban same-sex marriages?
They claim that without the Amendment, states will be forced to recognize same-sex marriage performed in other states. Yet the Defense of Marriage Act not only prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, it allows individual states to refuse to recognize such unions performed in other states. And in the eight years that have passed since its enactment, DOMA never has been invalidated in any court in the country. The authors of DOMA took the greatest pains to write a law that is constitutional and will withstand judicial challenges.
Proponents also claim that amending the Constitution is the only way to prevent so-called "activist judges" from legislating matters of same-sex marriage. Yet amending the Constitution to address marriage could invite federal judicial review not only of marriage, but of divorce, child custody, inheritance, adoption, and other issues of family law. Not only would this violate the principles of federalism, it would create very bad public policy.
Mr. Speaker, no legislature in the country has established same-sex marriage in statute. In fact, 39 states, including Illinois, have adopted laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
I urge my colleagues to have faith in our system of government, keep marriage out of the Constitution, and allow the states to continue to exercise what is best left to them.