MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT -- (House of Representatives - September 30, 2004)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our majority leader for his leadership on this issue. It is an honor for me to stand here with my colleagues today to protect marriage. To my colleagues who oppose this amendment, they want to argue that marriage is a right that should be extended to relationships beyond those of one man and one woman. They want to claim that the effort to protect marriage is about discrimination.
Mr. Speaker, I have a statement I want to enter into the RECORD. It is from one of Boston's most respected African American leaders, Reverend Richard Richardson of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, standing in support of marriage, working to help protect marriage.
The statement is as follows:
``As an African-American, I know something about discrimination. ..... The traditional institution of marriage is not discrimination. And I find it offensive to call it that. Marriage was not created to oppress people. It was created for children. It boggles my mind that people would compare the traditional institution of marriage to slavery. From what I can tell, every U.S. Senator--both Democrat and Republican--who has talked about marriage has said that they support traditional marriage laws and oppose what the Massachusetts court did. Are they all guilty of discrimination?''
Mr. Speaker, there is an emotional appeal to their arguments, but we are not here to legislate on emotion, and this is not comparable to the civil rights movement. We are here today, Mr. Speaker, because logic, because reason, because experience tell us that marriage is something that is worth preserving and protecting. Despite what some of my colleagues will say, we are not here for malicious purposes. We are here to ensure that our marriage laws protect an institution that is part of the bedrock fiber of our society.
To determine whether or not a law is discriminatory, you have got to have an understanding about something of the purposes of that law. Is Social Security age discrimination because only people of retirement age are affected by that? Of course not. Similarly, common sense, experience, and social science will tell us that the purposes of our marriage laws are neither ugly nor invidious.
Marriage is a social institution. Individuals freely decide to enter marriage, but they do not have a right to redefine its basic nature because they disagree with our shared American understanding of what marriage is. They do not have that right any more than an individual can privately redefine the meaning of other basic social terms like ``property'' or ``democracy'' or ``church'' or ``corporation.''
A vote for this amendment is a vote to preserve and protect an institution that is critical to the well-being of American families and children. Mr. Speaker, today we are going to stand with a basic element of our society. We have an obligation to preserve it.