Court Stripping Bill on Marriage Undermines Checks and Balances, Equal Protection
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 233-194 to pass the so-called “Marriage Protection Act,” legislation that would effectively bar an entire class of citizens from asking the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights.
“Today’s attack on the constitutional system of checks and balances demonstrates the corrosive impact of election-year politics as practiced by the Religious Right and its political allies,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “It is astonishing that self-described conservatives would embrace a scheme to eliminate any check on the power of Congress to restrict Americans’ rights and freedoms. What does it mean to be an American if the protections of the Constitution can be wiped away by a simple majority vote in Congress?”
The bill passed today would bar federal courts from hearing challenges to the “full faith and credit” provision of the 1996 federal “Defense of Marriage Act.”
“Today it is the right of gay and lesbian Americans to equality under law that is threatened,” wrote Neas in a letter to House members before the vote, “but stripping courts of jurisdiction is a tactic that can be turned against any of our fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Neas said he did not believe the Marriage Protection Act would pass the U.S. Senate, nor would it withstand court challenge.
People For the American Way supports full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, including equal marriage rights. PFAW is part of the Coalition Against Discrimination in the Constitution, a coalition of more than 120 national organizations that is working to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment.