"Federal Marriage Amendment" (FMA)
to prohibit same-sex marriage (SSM)
"Marriage in the United States shall
consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this
Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to
require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon
any union other than the union of a man and a woman." Wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment as of 2004-JUL-12.
"Civil unions are a counterfeit version of marriage that will
diminish the value of marriage. It is important for people to understand
that the argument has shifted from talk about tolerance and a right to
homosexual relations based on a right to privacy to explicit public
approval. And that's profound in its implications." Mark Regan, of
the Family Research Council, referring to Vermont's civil union
||"A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry. Dogs,
no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How should
society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs or as
humans?" Posting to an Internet mailing list; used by permission.
"This is a place where we're taking a stand. If this happens, the
culture war is over and everything associated with it is lost."
James Dobson, founder of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on
the Family, referring to same-sex marriage. He spoke at the "Mayday
for Marriage" worship service in Seattle, 2004-MAY-1. 3
"...powerful forces in our society want to change the very
definition of marriage itself--in effect, defining marriage out of
existence." From "One Flesh": A Sample Sermon Outline for
Protection Week by the Family Research Council. 4
"It seems to me that whenever that kind of
legacy of hate rears its head, there is an obligation not to be an innocent bystander," Kansas state Senator Adkins, (R-Leawood) referring to a proposed anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the state constitution. 5
The Federal Marriage Amendment "...will energize the religious,
conservative base like no other issue.© Rick Scarborough, president of
Vision America, a conservative group.
"Demonizing our fellow Americans by using constitutions to deny
rights rather than protect them is antithetical to our American values....We
can ill afford to let far right leaders succeed again in swaying an election
by exploiting irrational fears." People for the American Way action
||"Marriage is the cornerstone of our society. The institution, really
more than any other, determines the well-being of our future, of our
children, of our communities." Although this argument could be used to
either support or oppose SSM, it was made by Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) the
Senate majority leader in 2006 in favor of the FMA.
The "Marriage Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution was
House of Representatives on 2002-MAY-15
The amendment, in its
initial wording, stated:
"Marriage in the United States shall consist
only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor
the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be
construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents
thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." 6
A similar amendment was introduced into the Senate on
Opinions of the nature of the amendment, as originally
written, differ sharply:
||Supporters of the amendment say that it would simply:|
||Maintain the status quo: that marriage is is only between one man
and one woman.
||Restrict courts from interpreting constitutional law in a way that
would achieve marital equality. That is, the courts might give special privileges -- those that have traditionally been reserved
only for married people -- to couples in common-law relationships:
gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals.
||Maintain the freedom of individual state legislatures to pass laws, if they wish,
which grant create civil unions or give common-law couples these
rights and benefits.
||Those opposed to the amendment say that the amendment would:|
||Write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.
||Have major, long-term, negative cultural,
moral and social
||Invalidate numerous state and local domestic partnership laws.
"Nullify civil rights protections based on marital status,"
||Prevent legislatures from passing laws which grant create civil
unions or give common-law couples these rights and benefits.
Obviously, at least one group was either lying or misinformed about the
precise nature of the proposed amendment.
The U.S. Constitution was designed to be difficult to change. According
to Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), "In 217 years, the Constitution has only
been amended 17 times, although there have been 11,000 separate attempts." 8
An amendment must first be passed by 67 Senators,
and two thirds of the representatives in the House. It then has to be ratified
by at least 38 states. The Washington Post estimated on 2004-JUN-20 that fewer than 52 senators
would vote in favor, and that the bill will be
defeated. 9 They were correct. The Senate voted on 2004-JUL-14 to kill the FMA.
On 2004-AUG-30, the House also failed to pass the FMA; they were 49
The FMA was resurrected in early 2006 and again failed.
The amendment appears to be at least temporarily dead for three reasons:
Topics covered in this section:
Related essays in this web site:
"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
relating to marriage," SJ 30 IS, 2004-MAR-22, at:
Pamela Ferdinand, "With Vermont in the lead, controversy
progresses," Washington Post, 2001-SEP-4, at:
"Thousands protest gay marriage in Seattle," Associated
Press, 2004-MAY-2, at:
" 'One Flesh': Sample Sermon Outline for Marriage Protection Week
2003," Family Research Council, 2003-OCT, at:
John Hanna, "Debate over marriage amendment part of larger
cultural war," Kansas City Star, 2004-MAY-2, at:
H.J. Res. 93. To see a copy of the bill, go to Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet at http://thomas.loc.gov
and enter H.J. Res. 93 in the Bill Number box and click on Search.
"Religious group, house clique behind new marriage amendment,"
American Atheists' AAANEWS, 2002-MAY-22.
Pete Winn, "Senate Votes Down FMA," Focus on the Family,
Alan Cooperman, "Outcry from pews less than anticipated,"
Washington Post, published by the Lexinton (KY) Herald-Leader on
Copyright © 2002 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-MAY-26
Latest update: 2012-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson