Church-State Watchdog Group Says Measure Enshrines Religious Doctrines About Marriage In Constitution
WASHINGTON - May 17 - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote May 18 on whether to send S.J. Res. 1 to the full Senate. The so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” mandates that marriage in America “shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”
Americans United said the measure would write discrimination into the Constitution and would favor the marriage doctrines and rituals of some religious groups over others.
“The proposed amendment,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, “is a blatant attempt by conservative religious leaders to enshrine their doctrines and marriage practices into the Constitution. It is a wrong-headed, mean-spirited and ignoble campaign to write discrimination into our Constitution.”
“Senators should stop playing politics with marriage and refocus their energies on the real challenges that face our country,” said Lynn.
The federal marriage amendment failed in the Senate in 2004. Since then Religious Right lobbyists and activists, such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, have pressured lawmakers to bring the measure up for another vote.
With the midterm elections fast approaching and their poll numbers sagging, Republican senators, Lynn said, are dragging divisive issues into the public policy arena to cater to the Religious Right base.
Influential Religious Right leader James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the president’s top political adviser Karl Rove to push for the federal marriage amendment. Dobson and other leading Religious Right figures are warning they may not work hard to get their supporters to the polls unless action is taken on the federal marriage amendment and other right-wing causes, such as limiting the power of federal courts.
“The federal marriage amendment is a shameless ploy to placate the Religious Right and divert the citizens’ attention from the nation’s pressing concerns,” Lynn said.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.