FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT (FMA) TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
2004 events, June-01 to July-10
||"The ultimate outcome of our coming national culture war over gay marriage will either be legal gay marriage throughout the
United States, or passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment." American
Family Association. 1
In this essay, and others, "SSM" means "same-sex
Events prior to 2004-JUN are discussed in
a separate essay.
FMA events, starting in 2004-JUN:
||2004-JUN-16: Southern Baptist
Convention passes pro-FMA motion: The Family Research
Council noted that the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly
passed a strong resolution calling on Congress to pass the FMA.
||2004-JUN-17: Senate to vote on
amendment: Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) told the
Family Research Council that the senate will vote on the Federal
Marriage Amendment during the week of 2004-JUL-12. Sixty votes will be
needed to choke off debate and prevent a filibuster. Sixty-seven
affirmative votes will be needed to pass the amendment.
||2004-JUN-18: Revised amendment scheduled for vote in Senate: Senators John Cornyn of (R-TX), Wayne Allard (R-CO),
and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) held a news conference on JUN-18 to announce that
the FMA was scheduled for debate in the Senate during the week of July 12.
Answering criticism that the vote is politically motivated, Cornyn said: "We
didn't raise this issue. This issue was thrust upon us by the Massachusetts
Supreme Court. It was thrust on us by the civil disobedience that occurred in
San Francisco and all the litigation that's occurring around the country.....We
didn't pick the timing. It's been thrust upon us." The proposed
amendment must clear two
||It first may need to receive at least 60 votes in order to terminate
debate. Stewart said: "I think it will be close, and hopefully we'll get
60 [votes for closure of debate]. Hopefully people won't use an excuse to say that they want to debate
more. We've had plenty of debate on this. We've had six hearings on marriage in
the Senate alone."
||As mentioned above, the amendment requires 67 votes
to pass the Senate.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council,
issued a statement, saying: "We look forward to seeing which senators will
step up to the plate and take a stand in defense of marriage next month. We have
heard from many senators who have declined to co-sponsor the FMA but have
privately said they will still vote for it. It will be interesting to see if
they keep their word. This amendment is the only tool the American people have
to ensure that the definition of marriage remains one man and one woman."
2004-JUN-20: Massive outcry against SSM doesn't materialize:
Conservative Christian leaders expected a massive outcry against the
practice. However, as of 2004-JUN, it has not materialized.|
2004-JUN, the Washington Post wrote that: "Evangelical leaders had
predicted that a chorus of righteous anger would rise up out of churches
from coast to coast and overwhelm Congress with letters, e-mails and
phone calls in support of a constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage. But that has not happened."
4 Religious and social
conservatives appear to be accepting SSM in their stride and expressing
little interest in a federal constitutional amendment.
||2004-JUN-21: The Barna Group releases poll on the FMA: The
Group released a random poll taken in late 2004-MAY among 1,618 American
adults. The margin of error is within 2.9 percentage points. Some of
their findings were:|
||37% of voting-age subject had not heard of the FMA.
||46% favored the amendment; 35% strongly, and 11% moderately
||44% opposed it; 31% strongly, and 13% moderately.
||10% had no opinion. 5
||2004-JUN-22: Conflict among Republicans: Two senior
Republicans with opposing views on the FMA are scheduled to debate their
positions before the Senate Judiciary Committee:|
||Republican and former Representative Bob Barr, who once
represented Georgia, is arguing against the FMA. He feels that the
amendment unnecessarily tramples states' rights. He was the author
of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which allows states to
refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. He
said: "If we begin to treat the Constitution as our personal
sandbox, in which to build and destroy castles as we please, we risk
diluting the grandeur of having a Constitution in the first place."
||Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) will argue in favor of the FMA
making the case that a constitutional amendment is the only way in
which SSM can be prevented. He reported that same-sex couples from
at least 46 states have received marriage licenses in Massachusetts
and that cases are pending in 11 states which challenge marriage
laws that restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. He suggests
that each child has the right to a mother and father, and that
marriage is primarily for the "nurturing of children." Many states are in the same position as
Massachusetts in that they have marriage regulations and legislation
which imply opposite-sex marriage. However, their state
constitutions call for equal treatment of all citizens, without
discrimination. A senior court does not have to be particularly
radical to rule that the state constitution overrules the same
state's regulations and laws, thus legalizing SSM. 6,7
||2004-JUN-22: Call to defeat amendment: The America Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) called on the Senators to reject the
amendment. Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, said: "....Americans
have more important issues to worry about than whether gay and lesbian
couples can marry in Massachusetts. Denying marriage rights to same-sex
couples fails our national commitment to ending discrimination. Indeed,
this highly charged constitutional proposal reeks of election year
political maneuvering and anti-gay rhetoric....Discrimination in any
form -- especially by Congress -- is wrong, and should be
rejected....Our Constitution is not a document that should be used to
score political points, and most certainly should not be amended to
render a whole population of Americans as second-class citizens. The
'pro-family' supporters of the measure are more interested in vilifying
gay and lesbian Americans then they are about helping families. No
American family should be on the receiving end of legally sanctioned
This essay continues below
||2004-JUN-24: Pro-amendment petition: The American Family
Association (AFA) is attempting to obtain two million signatures on
a petition to Senators. They plan to sort them by state and send them to
the individual senators. As of 2004-JUN-24, they have obtained nearly
1,412,284 signatures. The petition states: "Activist liberal judges
are intent on destroying the institution of marriage as being between
one man and one woman. I urge you to pass the federal marriage amendment
defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman only. This is a
defining moment in history. It is time for members of Congress to take a
stand for traditional marriage." In the "purpose of the petition"
section of their web site, they state that: "The God-ordained
institution of marriage is under attack in courts across the nation, and
your help is needed to save it before the one man-one woman definition
of marriage is completely and radically redefined. American Family
Association believes the best hope of saving marriage from redefinition
is a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage
as between one man and one woman. A federal marriage amendment,
supported by members of both political parties, will soon be introduced
in Congress. An amendment such as this protects marriage from
redefinition by either state legislatures or an activist liberal judge.
A federal marriage amendment would stop activist judges from giving
legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples."
||2004-JUN-25: Iowa group discusses FMA
vote: The Iowa Family Policy Center announced that the vote
on the FMA will be held on JUL-15. They indicate that as things now
stand, the FMA will fail. Only 48 senators are
willing to vote for the Amendment. Sixty-seven are needed to pass.
||2004-JUN: Human Rights Campaign created
petition: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) works for equal rights for
gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. They have
petition on their web site that opposes the FMA. They will send it on
your behalf to your representative and senator in Washington. It says:|
"To use the Constitution to discriminate against any group of people
is shameful. It is neither compassionate nor conservative. It is a
radical position that would insert discrimination into the document that
has guaranteed and expanded liberty and equality for over 200 years.
The power to regulate marriage and the granting of civil marriage
licenses is a power that has historically been reserved to the states. A
constitutional amendment to prohibit governmental recognition of
same-sex relationships would take this power away from states. Further,
the U.S. Constitution should never be amended to limit the rights of a
group of people.
The amendment would do much more than define marriage. Leading legal
scholars agree that the amendment could forever invalidate civil unions
or other legal protections for same-sex couples -- such as the right to
visit a partner in the hospital or to receive partner health benefits --
even if state legislatures passed them and voters approved them.
The rights and responsibilities of marriage, other forms of relationship
recognition, and basic civil rights protections are essential components
that make all families, including families headed by same-sex couples,
safer and more secure. Marriage licenses, which are granted by the
state, and religious marriage, are two separate things. Religious
institutions will never be forced to bless relationships with which they
disagree, just as today religious institutions can refuse to marry
couples of different faiths or individuals who have been divorced.
Please oppose any attempt to build discrimination into the very document
that should protect everyone and please oppose any other legislation
designed to prohibit civil, secular recognition of same-sex
relationships. I look forward to hearing from you on this extremely
important issue." 10
||2004-JUN-26: Pro-polygamy group
predicts FMA will fail: Pro-Polygamy.com issued a news release which
predicts the failure of the FMA. 11 They note that many conservative
Christian leaders have indicated surprise that they are losing the
||On FEB-18, Gary Bower issued a press
release titled "Why we always lose." 12
He notes that the definition of marriage in the U.S. is well on the
way to being changed. He blames on the "....timidity of our own
||On MAY-16, David Kirpatrick wrote an
article for the New York Times, reporting that grass roots
conservatives have shown a "tepid response."
||Louis Sheldon of the Traditional
Values Coalition was quoted as saying: "I don't see any
traction. The calls aren't coming in, and I am not sure why."
||Matt Daniels of the Alliance for
Marriage was quoted as saying: "Our side is basically asleep right now."
||Richard Lessner, of the American Conservative Union
and formerly of the Family Research Council said: "They
have staked so much on it, they have put all these eggs in one
basket and now they 'are going to lose." 13
||On MAY-17, Massachusetts began issuing
SSM licenses; there was little negative response by the public.|
||On MAY-19, Cal Thomas, referring to
SSM in general, said that " 'Pro-family' groups have given it their best shot, but this debate
is over." 14|
||On JUN-20, Alan Cooperman wrote an
article for the Washington Post wrote which said, in part: "Evangelical
leaders had predicted that a chorus of righteous anger would rise up
out of churches from coast to coast and overwhelm Congress with
letters, e-mails and phone calls in support of a constitutional
amendment... But that has not happened."
||That article quoted Tony Perkins
of the Family Research Council as saying: "Standing on
Capitol Hill listening, you don't hear anything."
||On JUN-24, James Dobson of Focus on
the Family wrote: "...the biggest shock of all may be that this
development has prompted little more than a minor outcry from most
Americans....this will remain an uphill battle unless
the church as a whole rallies together."
||2004-JUL-09: Debate began in the Senate on the FMA: Some
comments reported in the media:|
||Sen. Sam Brownback, (R-KS), one of the bill's 16 co-sponsors,
said: "Some would define this as the ultimate culture battle."
||Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) "It's all about politics, folks.
Let's face it. We're going to go on to gay marriage before the
Democratic convention so some people can cast a vote that might hurt
them in their election. Shame on us."
||Sen. Lincoln Chafee, (R-RI) said: "Nuts. To be seen as the
party that's coming between two people that love each other doing
what they want to do....to me that's going to be seen as a
liability, politically." 18
||2004-JUL-09: Over a million petitions favoring FMA delivered to
Congress: Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) joined with representatives
from the Family Research Council and other groups who oppose
marriage for same-sex committed couples. They delivered 1.4 million
petitions to Congress in support of the FMA. Another 1.1 million are
expected to be delivered on JUL-13. They number of petitions will total
over 1% of the adults in the U.S. -- a very large number for a petition.
16 Tony Perkins,
president of the Family Research Council, said: "With
activist federal judges, some no doubt waiting for the opportunity to
redefine marriage for the entire country, we must have an amendment to
the U.S. Constitution and we are here today with yet another clear
example of the overwhelming public support for an amendment to protect
||2004-JUL-09: Polygamy group opposes FMA: Pro-Polygamy.com
criticizes conservative Christians for their support of the FMA. Their
news release states in part: "Truthfully, 'Protect Marriage Sunday'
must more accurately be called, 'Protect Government Marriage Sunday.'
The Federal Marriage Amendment does not 'protect' true Godly marriage
according to the Bible. Rather, it is a turning to the false god of big
socialist government to 'protect' an unconstitutional concept called
'government marriage,' and uses that false god to enforce such Marxist
The proposed amendment is completely unbiblical.
There is not one example in the Bible of anyone ever being married 'by
government.' So, the amendment seeks to 'protect' something which never
happened in the Bible.
The amendment de-legitimizes the Biblical marriages of polygamous Moses,
Abraham, Israel, David, and the dozens of other Biblical heroes who
married more than one wife -- polygamy. So, undermining those heroes
undermines the credibility of the Bible itself.
The amendment chooses a false god instead of the God of the Bible.
Scripturally, God never once used the false god of big socialist
government to define or 'protect' any doctrine. God alone defined
marriage, not the false god of big socialist government. So, the
amendment promotes outright idolatry." 17
||2004-JUL-10: President Bush supports
the FMA: President Bush reiterated his support for the FMA in his
Saturday radio address. He said: "For ages, in every culture,
human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to
the well-being of families....And because families pass along values and
shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of
society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine
them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine
the family structure." For a description of the one traditional
family structure and seven non-traditional structures mentioned in the
Bible, see mar_bibl.htm 19|
Subsequent events are discussed in
a separate essay.
"Marriage Protection Week: More information," American Family
"Southern Baptists Take Strong Stand on FMA, U.S. Senate is Next,"
Family Research Council, Washington Update, 2004-JUN-16.
Michael Foust, "Senate plans mid-July vote on Federal Marriage
Amendment," Baptist Press, 2004-JUN-21, at:
James Dobson, "Why we must back the Federal Marriage Amendment,"
Florida Baptist Witness, 2004-JUN-2, at:
"Public Divided On Marriage Amendment," The Barna Group,
"ACLU Renews Call to Keep Discrimination Out of Constitution;
Points to Lack of Cohesion in Republican Party on Divisive Issue,"
ACLU, 2004-JUN-22, at:
"Gov. Romney testifies for F.M.A. in D.C.," Massachusetts
Family Institute, E-alert, 2004-JUN-25.
The "NoGayMarriage.com" web site is at:
"Please pray for marriage," Iowa Family Policy Center,
2004-JUN-25, news release.
"Take Action," Human Rights Campaign, at:
"Conservative Silence on Marriage Amendment, One Year after 'Lawrence'," Pro_polygamy.com, at: http://www.pro-polygamy.com/
Gary Bauer, "Why we always lose," Campaign for Working
Families, 2004-FEB-20, at: http://www.cwfpac.com
David Kirpatrik, "Foes of gay marriage want more outrage," New York Times,
2004-MAY-17 at: http://www.iht.com/articles/520154.html
Cal Thomas, "Culture debate is over," The Witchita Eagle,
Alan Cooperman, "Outcry from pews less than anticipated,"
Washington Post, published by the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader on
Tony Perkins, "Over Two Million Petitions Presented to Capitol
Hill," Family Research Council, Washington Update, 2004-JUN-9, at:
" 'Protect Government Marriage Sunday' - Preaching Idolatry,"
Pro-Polygamy.com, 2004-JUL-09, at:
Mary Dalrymple, "Senate to Debate Marriage Amendment,"
Associated Press, 2004-JUL-9, at Christian Broadcasting Network, at:
Pete Winn, "Flurry of Activity as FMA Vote Nears," Focus on
the Family, Citizen Link, 2004-JUL-12.
Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2004-JUN-16
Latest update: 2004-JUL-13
Author: B.A. Robinson