MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - September 30, 2004)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my disappointment that this body has brought the Federal Marriage Protection to the Floor at a time when only one of the thirteen appropriations bills has been passed into law and other important legislation, such as the transportation reauthorization bill and intelligence reform have not yet become law.
This is not to say that I believe the issue of gay marriage to be unworthy of discussion. I understand that some people firmly regard gay marriage as a civil right while others find it antithetical to their religious or moral beliefs. Reasonable people can disagree on this issue, and it is a subject which our country must continue to discuss. In America, however, the authority to grant legal status to a marriage has been a function reserved for the states, and different states have different laws regarding issues ranging from blood-testing to waiting periods before marriage.
Some, including the proponents of this bill, will argue that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is necessary to keep one state from forcing another to accept same-sex marriages. In fact, this is not necessary because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Law, which provides that states, U.S. territories, or Indian tribes do not have to recognize same-sex marriages granted by other states. Further, the Act defines marriage, for the purpose of federal benefits and rules, as the legal union between one man and one woman. Therefore, the Wisconsin law which recognizes marriage as a relationship between a husband and wife is protected.
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to amending the United States Constitution, I am very conservative. Like Republican Senator CHUCK HAGEL, conservative columnist George F. Will, and the Republican author of the Defense of Marriage Act, Bob Barr, I am opposed to amending the Constitution for the purpose of outlawing gay marriage. In its 215-year history, the Constitution has been amended only 27 times, and we must not add amendments limiting rights rather than expanding them.
DICK CHENEY has stated "With respect to my views on the issue, I stated those during the course of the 2000 campaign, that I thought when it came to the question of whether or not some sort of legal status or legal sanction were granted to a same-sex relationship that that was a matter best left to the states. That was my view then. That's my view now." (Scripps Howard New Service, January 9, 2004). As recently as August, 2004, Vice President DICK CHENEY, speaking of gay marriage, affirmed that, "marriage has historically been a relationship that has been handled by the states." Like Vice President CHENEY, I do not believe the U.S. Congress needs to intrude on this state issue. Because of my great respect for the Constitution, and for the federal nature of the government which the document dictates, I will vote against this resolution, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same.