% IssueDate = "12/19/03" IssueCategory = "Events" %>
Transcript: Backs Bigoted Push for a Constitutional Amendment
White House is Likely to Provoke Civil Disobedience in the USA
"To support a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would blatantly discriminate against a group of Americans is unconscionable," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director. "We consider this a declaration of war on gay America. We cannot and will not be silent in the face of this attempt to enshrine our community with second class citizenship in this nation's most sacred document. The President is clearly pandering to the political and religious extremists that are his base. We did not ask for this fight, but if the President wants one, he will have one. And that fight will involve civil disobedience across this country."
Partial Transcript of ABC News Primetime Interview with President George W. Bush
Diane Sawyer: Massachusetts Supreme Court said that they were not, they did not feel the law was in a position to block gay marriage. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, are you saying you will absolutely support a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage and against gay civil unions?
George W. Bush: If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that, and will - the position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state or [?] start at the state level. Let me tell you, the court I thought overreached its bounds as a court. It did the job of the legislature. It was a very activist court in making the decision it made. As you know, I'm a person who believes in judicial restraint, as opposed to judicial activism that takes the place of the Legislative Branch.
George W. Bush: That's right. Except and unless judicial rulings undermine the sanctity of marriage. In which case, we may need a Constitutional amendment.
George W. Bush: And do you think that the defense of marriage law is enough then?
George W. Bush: It may be undermined at this point. I also think it's very important, on this subject, that the country be tolerant of people and understand people, but tolerance and belief in marriage aren't mutually exclusive points of view.
Diane Sawyer: Are they sinners? Are gays sinners?
George W. Bush: We're all sinners. We're all sinners, and that's important for -
Diane Sawyer: No distinction.
George W. Bush: I think we're all sinners. One of my favorite Bible verses says, "Why would I take a speck out of your eye when I have a log in my own?" ... and having said that, however, I do believe in the sanctity of marriage. ... but I don't see that as conflict with being a tolerant person or an understanding person. ...
Bush Comments at a Rose Garden Press Conference, July 30, 2003
Question: Thank you, sir. Mr. President, many of your supporters believe that homosexuality is immoral. They believe that it's been given too much acceptance in policy terms and culturally. As someone who's spoken out in strongly moral terms, what's your view on homosexuality?
George W. Bush: Yes, I am mindful that we're all sinners, and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country. On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage. And that's really where the issue is heading here in Washington, and that is the definition of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.
The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), would amend the U.S. Constitution to permanently define marriage in this country as being between one man and one woman. The federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 already defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
In the last few months we've seen a proliferation of LGBT issues in law and on television, including high court rulings in Massachusetts, Ontario and British Columbia legalizing equal marriage for same-sex couples and the United States Supreme Court's decriminalization of all sodomy laws in the Lawrence v. Texas case, now anti-gay organizers have made denying equal rights for LGBT people their number one cause.
This backlash, led by anti-gay extremists (who raise most of their money by demonizing and dehumanizing gay people) has only just begun.
National Organizations Respond to the Bush-Push for a Constitutional Amendment
The Log Cabin Republicans' gay executive director, Patrick Guerriero, is expressing his dismay about Bush's announcement. He says: "Supporting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment is wrong, it is not necessary and would codify discrimination in our Constitution."
The Democratic National Committee (DNC), encouraging citizens to vote against the GOP has announced: "Bush's endorsement (of a discriminatory Constitutional Amendment) now completes all of the items on the holiday wish list of right wing organizations. Earlier this year, Bush and Republicans gave the right wing some early holiday presents by declaring October 12-18 as "Marriage Protection Week" and signaling their intent to place in their official party platform the language of this anti-family amendment."
"Gay and lesbian Americans are a vital part of the Democratic Party. According to a November 2003 survey by the Pew Research Center, the DNC's inclusive position is consistent with that of most Americans, 80% of whom oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians and this anti-family amendment. While Republicans are dividing the country, Democrats and our candidates for President continue to support fairness and equality for all American families."
People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said:
"It is not tolerant to support a constitutional amendment that would require states to discriminate against a particular group of committed couples and their families…President Bush is trying to have it both ways. But he cannot credibly claim tolerance while simultaneously expressing support for a constitutional amendment that has discrimination as its very purpose."
The Stonewall Democrats issued a statement that discussed the status of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the U.S. Congress:
"The amendment, House Joint Resolution 56, currently has 100 Republican sponsors and eight Democratic sponsors. A similar bill, Senate Joint Resolution 26, has been introduced in the Senate with 6 Republican sponsors, but no Democratic support.
"In order to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a resolution must first be passed by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress. It must then be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures, who have up to seven years to approve any such amendment."
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has called on its membership to telephone the White House expressing opposition. The following points, said NGLTF, must be kept in mind:
"Marriage rights for same-sex couples are no longer an abstract hypothetical. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples -- U. S. Citizens -- have married in Canada, and they ARE married. Gay and lesbian couples will soon be married in the state of Massachusetts. This Administration can choose to treat them with respect, dignity and fairness, or they can discriminate against them. I strongly urge the President to reject the Federal Marriage Amendment. It represents the divisive and discriminatory politics of the past. I vehemently urge the President to reject this political attack on gay and lesbian families."
White House Contact Information:
TTY/TDD Comments: 202-456-6213
NGLTF also asked to hear for those who are willing to commit "Direct Acts of Civil Disobedience":
Any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other fair-minded people willing to engage in direct acts of civil disobedience are urged to e-mail their contact information to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to be included in planning actions across the country.
Right Wing Pollsters:
The ultra-right, anti-gay American "Family" Association is conducting a "for" and "against" poll on gay marriage, the results of which will be presented to Congress. Cast your vote at: http://www.afa.net/petitions/marriagepoll.asp