FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT (FMA) TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
2004 events, July-11 to 13:
"Protect Marriage Sunday," and the Senate debate
||"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-July-11 are discussed in
a separate essay.
FMA events, starting in 2004-July-11:
||2004-JUL-11: Result of Internet survey: OneVoice.org
conducted an online survey to find visitors' reaction to the FMA. Their
executive director, Edie Littlefield, said: "We've seen considerable
interest by voters. But the website and Senate debate have only been
alive for a few days, so it's too early to know how the numbers might
change when more online voters speak out." Results as of Sunday,
2004-JUL-11 at 3 PM EST were:|
||36% support the FMA.
||64% oppose the FMA.
||22% will vote against their senator if she/he opposes the FMA.
||31% will vote against their senator if he/she supports the FMA
||2004-JUL-11: TV Simulcast to promote the FMA: A series of live simulcasts has been organized by the
Family Research Council in
association with Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and
the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The first was
broadcast to hundreds of conservative Christian churches in 2004-MAY. It
featured leaders of many Fundamentalist Christian groups which oppose equal
rights for same-sex couples, including Tony Perkins, of the Family
Research Council, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Chuck
Colson of Prison Fellowship, and Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue
Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. 3
A second simulcast will be held on what the ERLC has declared
"Protect Marriage Sunday,"
2004-JUL-11. It is
called "Battle for Marriage -- Imminent Vote." 4
It will apparently be seen at a relatively
small percentage of churches. For example, the Iowa Family Policy
Center reports that it will only be at six churches in Iowa: three
in Des Moines and three elsewhere in the state. 5|
||2004-JUL-11: Daniel Burke comments on the lead-up to the
Senate debate: Daniel Burke of Religion News Service raised some
points concerning the preparation for the FMA debate:|
||From pro-FMA/anti-SSM groups:|
||James Dobson, founder and president of the
Fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family asked listeners to his radio program to "Get all your
friends to call [the congressional switchboard]. Call until
the switchboard smokes." We can all hope that no
emergency phone calls need to be handled in Congress while
Dobson's followers are paralyzing the phone system.
||The American Family Association has called JUL-12 "Call
your Senators Day." They urge people who favor the FMA to
call their senators on that day.
||The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has written to
each of the U.S. bishops asking them to personally lobby
their senators in favor of the FMA.
||Burke writes: "...conservative lawmakers and
religious activists are looking to the amendment's debate as
an opportunity to focus attention on the issue and to force
senators to make their views public. 'It's important for
politicians who have deftly avoided this issue ... to let
people know where they really stand,' said Sen. Rick
Santorum, (R-PA), who is a co-sponsor of the amendment."
||From anti-FMA/pro-SSM groups:|
||Soulfource, a Christian gay-positive group, recommends
that if a pastor attacks marriage for persons of all sexual
orientations that their supporters simply stand as a silent
protest. Spokesperson Laura Montgomery Rutt said: "We're
trying to stop pastors from using their time on the pulpit
to demean the loving relationship between two people."
||In June, the Episcopal Church,
Presbyterian Church (USA),
and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) wrote a
letter to Congress that said, "It is not the task of our
government and elected representatives to enshrine in our
laws the religious point of view of any one faith."
||2004-JUL-11: Comments from visitors to Beliefnet.com.
They offered their opinions on SSM and the FMA in a "What do you believe" forum.
Their comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the amendment. Some are listed below,
with spelling errors corrected:|
||'amilius:' "Marriage, as recognized by the state, should
recognize same-sex arrangements as socially beneficial
arrangements among tax paying constituents deserving of equal
rights protection as an evolving construct of a social rather
than religious nature....The sacrament, with all the perceived
religious overtones, is 'matrimony'. The secularly endorsed
social arrangement is marriage. To truly establish the
separation of church and state, religions should be allowed to
discriminate among tax paying law abiding citizens of their
following as they choose."
||'ogirl:' "catholicseeker said: 'And I WILL NOT, under
pain of death, help support an amendment that enshrines hatred
in our Constitution. They can excommunicate me if they want, but
I will not hate in the name of God, for God hates none.' I
couldn't agree more. God doesn't hate, and hate in his name is
contradictory. I almost cried when I read this statement."
||'Keith1878:' Referring to Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, he
writes: "My hope is that gays and lesbians stop trying to
reason with unreasonable people. [They]...don't
deserve to be reasoned with. We want our civil rights NOW!!! Not tomorrow, not 10 years from now, not when everyone votes on
||'sparky69:' "Let the churches decide who can be married
in that scenario. Keep the separation of church and state, a
line that the Bush administration is trying to erase. Too many
of these conservatives can talk the talk, but too many of them
can't walk the walk."
||'GinLiz:' "I really cannot understand why, if marriage is
a sacred institution created by God, the government should hold
the keys. Why on earth is marriage a government issue at all?
Why can't everybody in the US have access to civil unions, a
legal set of rights and responsibilities granted by the
government. Churches can then 'marry' people as they sees fit,
if it is an institution of God."
||'mightymountaingorilla:' "The Constitution is one of the
most sacred things in the USA because it is 'THE LAW OF THE
LAND' -- it determines the writing and interpretations of ALL
laws--past or present. The fact that most states have laws
against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that the
Constitution could possibly have a law that supports
discrimination is a basic contradiction. How can we teach our
children to value the rights of others and the freedom that the
USA promises all of its citizens, if we support such a horrible
amendment to the most important document in the American legal
||'gurpybear:' "Why is all the argument about this issue
based on religious beliefs? The real issue is whether or not we
as citizens of the USA want our Constitution amended to include
discrimination for the first time in history."
||'sunshine2777:' "I disagree with the homosexual
lifestyle. Homosexuality is a sin and a choice. God calls it a
sin as well but I know 'man' (in general) thinks he has it 'all
figured out and can justify it.' God will have the final say,
regardless of what any of us think or say. But one would be wise
to look back on any society that has gone down this road.... and
see they were destroyed eventually."
||'insaigim2000:' "In a secular society like ours, marriage
could be thought of as two institutions, the civil and the
religious. The religious institution is the concern of specific
religious bodies and no government has the right to decide for
them how to handle it. The civil institution is the government's
responsibility and it should make that institution available to
any citizen in the same way it makes other civil institutions
available. We are entering dangerous territory when we ask the
government to legislate religious doctrine. It could come back
to bite it's supporters."
||"Outing panic" grips Washington: Rumors are
circulating that some gay activists have decided to expose gay and
lesbian members of Congress who keep their sexual orientation secret
and who plan to vote in favor of the FMA. Further, there are
suggestions that the outing will extend to secretly gay and lesbian
staff members of Senators who plan to vote for the FMA. John
Aravosis wrote an article during the week of JUL-4 in the Washington
Blade which said, in part: "The FMA is the legislative equivalent
of a nuclear bomb. Facing such an unprecedented threat, it is time
we considered an unprecedented response." Michelangelo Signorile
wrote in 365gay.com: "Rumors have circulated in Washington
that the Blade had planned to publish a list of names of closeted
staffers and members, something the paper denies even as it defends
reporting on those who might be closeted gays who might be voting
for the amendment." 6
This essay continues below
||2004-JUL-12: Alliance for
Marriage promotes the FMA: Matt Daniels, is the president of the
Alliance for Marriage (AFM), the group that wrote the initial
draft of the FMA. He said: "The
constitutional problem created by almost a decade of activist lawsuits
to destroy our marriage laws demands a constitutional fix. AFMís
marriage amendment has been introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship in
two successive sessions of Congress in order to protect the common sense
view of marriage shared by the vast majority of Americans of every race,
color and creed." 7|
||2004-JUL-12: Family Research Council discusses simulcast event: Tony Perkins discussed the previous day's
simulcast called "Battle for Marriage -- Imminent Vote."
He estimates that it was heard and watched by over a million radio
listeners and television viewers -- perhaps one half of one percent of
the adult population in the U.S. They urge their followers to phone
their senators before the FMA vote is taken. They said: "Don't accept
excuses from your Senators' staff. Additionally, don't be alarmed if you
are transferred into a voicemail box or get a busy signal. We're
shutting down the phones on Capitol Hill, and that's a good thing. Just
hang up and call back until you get someone on the phone." 8 Hopefully, there will
be no life-threatening, emergency calls that the congressional
switchboard needs to handle during the early part of this week.|
||2004-JUL-12: Pro-FMA news conference: Personnel from the
Alliance for Marriage (AFM), who wrote the initial draft of the FMA,
held a news conference in Washington. Forty groups were represented.
President Matt Daniels said that the FMA sponsors: "...share a belief
that we cannot survive as a nation if marriage is destroyed by a handful
of activist lawyers and judges. To characterize these people as nothing
more than partisan pawns is to demean them." Two senators attended
the conference: Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). 9|
||2004-JUL-12: Last minute changes to the FMA:
||Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) wants to see a reworded FMA that is
patterned after the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He will try to amend
the FMA. He said: "I have some differences as to the language, but
you've got to be able to debate something, you've got to be able to work
on something, before you get there...I strongly support the statement
that marriage is between a man and a woman. At the same time, I want to
make sure that this does not force the discrimination." Mark Dayton
(D-MN), Minnesota's other senator, opposes the FMA. 10
||Some Republican Senators are pushing for a
simplified FMA. "Some Republicans argued that proposed
language on other legal arrangements, such as civil unions, was
confusing and could be interpreted as either sanctioning or banning such
unions." 11 That
is, in addition to banning SSM, the amendment could also prevent
states and from creating civil unions or family partnerships for
same-sex couples. One popular
change would delete the current FMA's ambiguous second sentence. The revised
FMA would simply state: "Marriage
in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a
woman." The Senate was expected to vote on
the FMA as currently written, and then vote on the one sentence
alternative. This change would outlaw marriage for same-sex couples, but
would not inhibit courts and legislatures from creating
Vermont-style civil unions or
California-style family partnerships which
could have all of the rights, privileges and obligations that states
give to married couples.
||2004-JUL-12: First day of Senate debate on the FMA: Senate majority leader, Bill Frist (R-TN)
allocated JUL-12 and 13 for debate on the FMA.
article in the Salt Lake Tribune stated that Republican supporters of
the FMA: "...have previously used Utah's territorial fight [in the 19th
century] against the U.S. government over polygamy as an example of
legitimate federal intrusion into state marriage law. But Senate
Democrats brought up plural marriage policy Monday as they argued that
states already have adequate authority over marriage and that the
so-called Federal Marriage Amendment is a needless intrusion on states'
rights." Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA) said: "The courts have
long held no state can be forced to recognize a marriage that offends a
deeply held public policy of that state. Polygamous marriages, for
example, even if sanctioned by another state, have consistently been
rejected." Senator Orrin Hatch, (R-UT) said
that Feinstein's argument "doesn't hold water." Referring to the
ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
that legalized SSM, Hatch predicted that: "every
state in the union is going to be bound by those marriages." The
article states that both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge that the
FMA will fail to receive the necessary 67 votes to pass the Senate.
There is speculation that the Republicans are using the FMA to highlight
differences between the two parties in advance of the November election.
||Rick Santorum (R-PA) said that the purpose of the FMA was to
protect marriage and the family and not to deny anyone's rights. He said
that the FMA was needed to "stop what I believe is the death
knell of our society." 11
||Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) felt that the debate as a "waste of
time." She believes that Republicans are trying to "drive a
division into the voters of America...one more wedge issue at a very
difficult time to be used politically in elections." She feels that
the issue should be left to to states to decide.
||2004-JUL-13: Debate continues; more comments on the FMA:
||Senator Rick Santorum, (R-PA) said: "I cannot think of
anything more important than the basic social building block of our
country, and that is what marriage is, that is what the family is,
and it is in jeopardy. It is in serious, real jeopardy as a result
of what the courts are doing."
On another occasion, he said: "I'm a lover of traditional
families and children who deserve the right to have a mother and a
father. [The FMA]....has profound consequences, profound
consequences on children and thereby on the next generation."
||Senator Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) said: "We're not talking about
ways to stop al-Qaida here. We're not talking about ways to fix our
intelligence here. We're talking about amending the Constitution.
The Constitution is too great a document to be used as an applause
meter before a convention."
||Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ) said: "I
would like to see the right of my state preserved to decide the
matter of gay marriage."
||Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna
College in California, said: "For the general public, it's a
second-tier issue at most, but it's the kind of an issue that can
energize social conservatives." 13
||Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-MA): "The rabid, reactionary
religious right has rarely looked more ridiculous. They know they
don't have the votes to come even close to passing this amendment.
But they have sufficient stranglehold on the White House and the
Republican leadership in Congress to force the issue to a vote
anyway, in a desperate effort to arouse their narrow-minded
constituency and somehow gain an advantage in the elections this
Republicans attempted to schedule an alternative wording to the FMA
which would delete its second, ambiguous sentence. "...some
legal scholars said the wording [of that clause] is vague enough that it
could prohibit states from enacting laws allowing gays to enter into
civil unions, as they can do in Vermont."
This is a fairly common stealth technique used by some religious and
social conservatives: to write a bill that is ambiguous and can be
interpreted and implemented in different ways. This technique was used
to create many state laws to eliminate D&X
abortions; it led to all of them having been declared
unconstitutional. In other cases, bills to outlaw strip joints were
worded in such a way that it would also ban naturist resorts.
Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) proposed the revised wording. However,
Democrats blocked it from consideration. Minority Leader Tom Daschle,
(D-SD), said: "The Republicans find themselves in an embarrassing
position. They cannot agree among themselves as to what form the
amendment relating to gay marriage or the marriage amendment ought to
take." He said that a revision would open the door to other revisions "...in
essence, making the Senate a constitutional convention." 13,15
Subsequent events are discussed in a separate essay.
"Marriage Protection Week: More information," American Family
Association, at: http://www.marriageprotectionweek.com/
"Issue #1," One Voice, at:
Michael Foust, "Senate plans mid-July vote on Federal Marriage
Amendment," Baptist Press, 2004-JUN-21, at:
"Faith, Family & Freedom - The Battle for
Marriage: Imminent Vote," at:
"Take Action to Protect Marriage!," Iowa Family Policy
Michelangelo Signorile, "It's Outing Season!," 365gay.com,
"Senate Majority Leader Stands With Diverse Coalition As Senate
Begins Debate on AFMís Marriage Amendment. Senate Action Marks Start of
National Debate on Marriage Amendment Drafted By the Alliance For
Marriage Over Three Years Ago," Alliance for Marriage, 2004-JUL-12,
Tony Perkins, "FRC Goes On the Air Just Days Before the Senate
Votes," Washington Update, Family Research Council, 2004-JUL-12.
Pete Winn, "Flurry of Activity as FMA Vote Nears," Focus on
the Family, Citizen Link, 2004-JUL-12.
Frederic Frommer, "Coleman will vote for gay marriage amendment,"
Associated Press, 2004-JUL-12, at:
Helen Dewar and Alan Cooperman, "GOP May Revise Marriage
Amendment," Washington Post, 2004-JUL-12, at:
Christopher Smith, "Senate's gay marriage debate veers into
polygamy discussion," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2004-JUL-13, at:
Jim Puzzanghera, "Gay marriage amendment expected to fall short in
Senate," Knight Ridder Newspapers, 2004-JUL-13 at:
John Shovelan, "US Republicans all but concede failure of gay
marriage ban," The World Today, 2004-JUL-14, at:
Tim Harper, "Republican strategy unravels. Planned to force vote
on gay marriage. Party members clash over proposed ban," Toronto
Star, 2004-JUL-14, Page A10.
Additional resources used:
"Southern Baptists Take Strong Stand on FMA, U.S. Senate is Next,"
Family Research Council, Washington Update, 2004-JUN-16.
Alan Cooperman, "Outcry from pews less than anticipated,"
Washington Post, published by the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader on
The "NoGayMarriage.com" web site is at:
"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:
"Please pray for marriage," Iowa Family Policy Center,
2004-JUN-25, news release.
"Gov. Romney testifies for F.M.A. in D.C.," Massachusetts
Family Institute, E-alert, 2004-JUN-25.
"Conservative Silence on Marriage Amendment, One Year after 'Lawrence'," Pro_polygamy.comô, 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,
James Dobson, "Why we must back the Federal Marriage Amendment,"
Florida Baptist Witness, 2004-JUN-2, at:
"Take Action," Human Rights Campaign, at:
"Over Two Million Petitions Presented to Capitol Hill,"
Family Research Council, 2004-JUL-09.
"Protect Government Marriage Sunday" - Preaching Idolatry,"
Pro-Polygamy.com, 2004-JUL-09, at:
"Public Divided On Marriage Amendment," The Barna Group,
Daniel Burke, "Both Sides Prepare for Gay Marriage Showdown in
Senate," Beliefnet, 2004-JUL-8, at:
"Marriage amendment expected to die in Senate. Proposal to ban
same-sex marriage unlikely to get enough votes," CNN News,
David Espo, "Senate Scuttles Gay Marriage Amendment," MyWay,
"Senate vote on Federal Marriage Amendment," OneVoice News,
2004-JUL-14, news release.
Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2004-JUL-11
Latest update: 2004-JUL-15
Author: B.A. Robinson