FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 20, 2004
Equality California Condemns U.S. House Bill Stripping Federal Courts' Review of the "Defense of Marriage Act"
SACRAMENTO – With the assistance of over half a million letters, faxes and emails to elected officials generated through Equality California’s advocacy center alone, equality advocates won a major battle last week when the Federal Marriage Amendment failed in the U.S. Senate. This was ahuge set-back for th ose who want to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution through an amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, thus permanently preventing LGBT couples from the rights, benefits and responsibilities marriage provides.
However, the battle is NOT over. With this loss in the U.S. Senate, ultra conservatives are redoubling their efforts in this election year. The House of Representatives is taking up a bill called the "Marriage Protection Act of 2003," (H.R. 3313). If passed, HR 3313 would prevent federal court challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law passed in 1996 that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman and holds that states are not bound to recognize marriages of same-sex couples that might be legally recognized in other states. If passed, this "court stripping" bill means only state courts could consider DOMA challenges, and state courts have no jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of discrimination against same-sex couples under federal law, which includes the over 1,000 federal rights, protections, and responsibilities granted to people who are legally married.
"After failing in their attempt to amend the Constitution to deny same-sex couples the guarantee of equal protection, anti-equality politicians and ultra right wing organizations are attempting to stripfrom the courts their right to reviewDOMA. This bill is a direct attack on our entire system of government, ” said Equality California Executive Director Geoffrey Kors. "In a desperate attempt to keep LGBT citizens from equal protection under the law, anti-gay lawmakers are now tinkering with another fundamental pillar of our democracy – the separation of powers between the branches of government. Our democracy has worked because the Courts play a crucial role in ensuring protection of minorities. To allow Congress to give itself the power to enact laws denying people rights that are not reviewable by the Courts would totally undermine the framework of our nation.”
Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org.
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