September 3, 2003
We, the undersigned organizations of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, urge you to oppose any attempt, such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, to amend the United States Constitution to limit the rights of its citizens. This particular amendment would turn 225 years of Constitutional history on its head by discriminatorily intruding into the traditional authority of states in matters of family law.
The proposed amendment is also antithetical to the Constitution’s guiding principle to provide equal protection for all. It proposes to use one of our nation’s most revered documents as a tool of exclusion, amending the Constitution to restrict the rights of a group of Americans for the first time in history. The proposed amendment would not only prohibit states from granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, but apparently seeks also to deprive same-sex couples and their families of fundamental protections such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and health care benefits, whether conveyed through marriage or other legally recognized relationships, running afoul of basic principles of fairness as well as causing harm to real children and real families.
Amending the Constitution is a measure that is rarely used, and it is only done to address great public policy need. Since the Bill of Rights’ adoption in 1791, the Constitution has only been amended seventeen times. The Constitution itself, and subsequent amendments, were designed to protect and expand individual liberties, not to take away or restrict them. Nevertheless, the resolution proposes to restrict the rights of a whole class of people.
At a time when our nation has a great many pressing issues, exerting time and energy on a divisive and discriminatory constitutional amendment seems a poor use of our resources. We implore you to focus on the important issues facing our nation, and to publicly oppose this amendment. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Nancy Zirkin, LCCR Deputy Director/Director of Public Policy, at (202) 263-2880.
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
American Association of University Professors
American Civil Liberties Union
Americans for Democratic Action
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for Women Policy Studies
Japanese American Citizens League
The Jewish Labor Committee
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Congress for Community Economic Development
National Council of Jewish Women
National Organization for Women
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
People For the American Way
Service Employees International Union
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
cc: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee