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Senate Poised to Vote on Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

A Senate vote next week could amend the Constitution to limit marriage and marriage rights to heterosexual couples. The Federal Marriage Amendment would restrict certain rights only to straight couplesÑincluding marriage benefits such as property ownership, child custody, and medical decision-making, effectively disenfranchising gay couples across the nation. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Cheryl Jacques said in a press release, “This is an attempt to change the Constitution from a vessel for freedom to a tool of discrimination. For more than 200 years, the Constitution has been amended to expand individual rights, not restrict them.” Many, including Republicans sponsoring the amendment and right-wings grassroots organizations, say that it is unlikely that the measure will pick up the 67 votes needed to pass. The vote on the amendment is timed to take place just one week before the Democratic National Convention, and critics of the amendment say that conservatives are simply trying to make same-sex marriage an election issue, solidifying their right-wing base while forcing Democrats to be on the books taking a stance on the issue. “The goal is to put Democrats in a tough position,” said Executive Director David Noble of the Stonewall Democrats, a gay rights advocacy organization, in USA Today. Seven in 10 registered voters argue that the gay marriage issue shouldn’t be included in election year politics, a CBS News Poll reports. A version of this amendment is likely to make its way onto the GOP platform this upcoming election if it does not pass, AlterNet.com reports. The amendment states: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” The Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, estimates from census statistics that same-sex couples live in more than 99 percent of counties across the country. JOIN the Feminist Majority

Sources:

USA Today 7/8/04; AlterNet.com 7/7/04; Human Rights Campaign press release 3/22/04, phone interview 7/8/04; CBS News Poll, 5/30/04; Federal Marriage Amendment S.J. Res. 30