Bush Plays Destructive And Divisive Politics With Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2004

Contact: Nathan Richter or Peter Montgomery at PFAW

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

PFAW calls endorsement of anti-gay marriage amendment ‘shameful’

Today, President Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment that would force states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas called the President’s announcement “an appalling and disgraceful move that would cause lasting damage to the values enshrined in our Constitution and very real harm to many American families.” Neas said People For the American Way is working closely with a broad coalition of organizations opposing a constitutional amendment.

“We must not rewrite the Constitution to require treating one group of Americans differently than others,” said Neas. “The Constitution is the foundation of our freedom. Over many years, men and women have dedicated their lives to ensuring that all Americans are treated equally under the law. It is an unprecedented, and extremely offensive, act to amend the Constitution to require states to discriminate against one group of Americans.”

Neas noted that the Bush announcement comes just as the president is launching his re-election campaign. Far-right organizations have been demanding that the White House push for a constitutional amendment in order to energize the president’s political base, and GOP strategists have openly gloated over the prospect of using the marriage debate as an election year “wedge issue.”

“The White House is playing a cynical and destructive game with the Constitution, diverting attention from other matters that are of higher priority to American families,” said Neas. “We should not allow the White House to distract the American people from issues that pose a real threat to American families, including lack of jobs, the administration’s reckless deficit and tax policies, its dismantling of constitutional checks and balances, and more. Fair-minded Americans will reject this attempt at playing politics with people’s lives.”

People For the American Way supports full legal equality for gay and lesbian Americans, and has supported full marriage equality for same-sex couples since 1996. A longtime advocate for equal rights, the affiliated People For the American Way Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief in the Massachusetts case urging the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to uphold equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, as it did.