On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law explicitly defining marriage as the union between a man and woman, to determine what steps should be taken to protect the federal law, including the possibility of a Constitutional amendment. Thirty-seven states have passed state versions of the law.
Several hearing panelists and Senators expressed their dissent to a possible future Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution that would permanently ban same-sex marriages. Lawyer and professor Dale Carpenter stated that the possible move to create an amendment to the Constitution of this sort would be “unnecessary, unwise, [and] undemocratic.”
In moving testimony, Keith Bradkowski detailed the difficulty he had after losing his partner, Jeff Coleman, in the tragedy on September 11. Though symbolically married for 11 years, Bradkowski experienced many legal hurdles after Coleman’s death. Bradkowski summed up his testimony, “Married couples have security and protection. Gay couples have none.” Rights such as hospital visitations, medical decisions, health insurance, adoption, foster care, or kinship care, which are already difficult to secure, would be invalidated nationwide if the Federal Marriage Amendment were to be incorporated into the Constitution. The Feminist Majority, along with 22 other women’s and civil rights coalition partners, sent a letter to Senators on September 3 in opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment.