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FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENTS (FMA) TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

The FMA, is reborn during 2005

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Sponsored link.


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Quotations:

bullet"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
bullet"Not a single right or privilege will be taken away from a single married person when same-sex marriage becomes a reality across the country. Instead, those gays, lesbians and bisexuals who want to support and strengthen the institution of marriage will be able to marry." Anonymous poster on a gay-positive forum.
bullet"We are at a strategic time in America's history. You've already got the tools in your hand to change the country. What's needed now is the courage to stand up, the courage to speak." Pastor Harry Jackson, speaking in opposition to SSM
bullet"Gay people deserve the same right to marry that everybody else does. And God cares about our relationships the same way that God cares about heterosexual relationships. We're making the same commitments to each other. We have the same responsibilities to each other, and we deserve the same rights and responsibilities under the law that everyone else has." Harry Knox, director of religious outreach for Human Rights Campaign, a gay-positive advocacy group.

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In this essay, and others, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage."
We use the term "SSM" rather than the more commonly used term "homosexual marriage" because many same-sex marriages and committed relationships are composed of one or more bisexuals.

For events prior to 2006-MAY see our FMA menu

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2005-JAN-24: Joint resolution S.J. RES. 1 introduced:

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) reintroduced the Federal Marriage Amendment as S.J. RES.1. It is identical to the resolution rejected by both houses of Congress in 2004. It has 32 co-sponsors, all Republican senators:

The text reads:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

Article:

SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the "Marriage Protection Amendment."
SECTION 2. 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. 2

Senator Allard introduced the joint resolution in a speech to the Senate:

"As of this very moment, we have a quarter of the Senate who have signed on as cosponsors. I think that is fabulous. It is certainly a better start than we had in the last session. In the last session, if my memory serves me correctly, I think we only had about 13 or so cosponsors on it, even after we had the debate in the Senate. So even before we have sent out a letter to our colleagues in the Senate, we have 25 original cosponsors. I am excited about that."

"So today we have reintroduced the Marriage Protection Amendment in the Senate. The intent and policy goals remain the same as last year. It is the same bill we debated on the floor of the Senate. What it does is define marriage as a union between a man and a woman."

"The amendment represents a democratic process: the voice of the American people following recent and widespread efforts by activist courts to change this ages-old definition of marriage...."

"The amendment does restrict the ability of the courts to define marriage. The Marriage Protection Amendment does not override State and local authority. Under the Marriage Protection Amendment, cities, States, and private companies would still be free to determine for themselves civil union, benefit, and partnership definitions." 2

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Comparison of the 2002 FMA with S.J. RES. 1:

The original 2002 version of the FMA appears to have been a piece of stealth legislation. It was promoted as a constitutional amendment to protect opposite-sex marriage. But its second clause had the phrase "nor state or federal law" inserted after the word "State." It would have caused domestic partnerships in California, civil unions in Connecticut, and civil unions in Vermont to become unconstitutional. In fact, it would have made all of the 1,400 or so federal benefits or obligations, and about 400 state benefits routinely given to opposite-sex married couples permanently unavailable to same-sex couples. This would range from income tax benefits, pension plans....even to state financial grants to local agencies giving parenting classes; any benefit at all to same sex couples would be unconstitutional. Even if a same sex couple had been living together in a committed relationship for decades and were raising children, the state would have beem forced to consider them to be nothing more than roommates.

The first sentence of Section 2 in S.J. RES. 1 is unchanged from the 2002 version. However, the second sentence has been changed significantly. It would no longer prohibit states from passing legislation to recognize same-sex families and couples and give them benefits.

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2005-MAR-17: H.J. RES.39, another FMA, introduced:

Representative Daniel Lungren (R-CA) introduced a competing federal marriage amendment to the House. The text reads:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

Article

SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of a legal union of one man and one woman.
SECTION 2. No court of the United States or of any State shall have jurisdiction to determine whether this Constitution or the constitution of any State requires that the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon any union other than a legal union between one man and one woman.
SECTION 3. No State shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State concerning a union between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage, or as having the legal incidents of marriage, under the laws of such other State.' 3

This amendment would restrict marriage to the "legal" union -- not just the union -- of one man and one woman.

Section 2 would appear to prevent any federal or state court from requiring the federal government or any state government to give any benefits at all to same-sex couples, including protection for their children, income tax benefits, and thousands of other benefits which are automatically given to married couples. Same-sex couples would be forever considered as mere roommates.

Section 3 would appear to prevent any state from recognizing a same-sex couple who are married in another state.

On 2005-MAR-17, the resolution was introduced in the House. On 2005-APR-04, it was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, where it appears to be stalled.

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Bill progress:

bullet2005-JAN-24: Introduced to the Senate. Referred to the  Senate Committee on the Judiciary
bullet2005-NOV-09: Approved by the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights.
bullet2006-MAY-18: The bill was passed by the Committee on the Judiciary without amendment and without a written report. It was placed on the Senate legislative calendar.
bullet2006-JUN-06: Vote is scheduled in the Senate.

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2006-MAY-22: Religious freedom implications of same-sex marriage:

The Heritage Foundation convened a panel in Washington titled "Same-sex marriage and the fate of religious liberty." Panelist Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute of Marriage and Public Policy asked whether congregations, religious schools, and para-church groups who discriminate against homosexuals or bisexuals may be treated the way racists are treated now. She suggests that they might lose tax exemptions. The implication appears to be is that if same-sex marriage becomes generally available, beliefs will change so that the general public will consider homophobia as evil, on a par with sexism and racism.

The Family Research Council said that the Washington Post on MAY-23

"...editorialized against the MPA, saying there is no real threat from same-sex marriage. Ironically, it is among liberal lawyers that certitude is greatest about the coming collision between religious liberty and sexual license."

The term "sexual license" appears to refer to loving committed same-sex couples who wish to get married.

The Council also suggested that: "Many misleading polls [of congressional legislators] are offered to undercut support for the MPA, but remember polls are not votes." 1

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Marriage on the Hill," Washington Update, Family Research Council, 2006-MAY-24.
  2. "Statements on introduced bills and joint resolutions -- Senate," 2005-JAN-24, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
  3. "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage," http://thomas.loc.gov/

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Copyright 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-MAY-25
Latest update: 2006-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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