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SUMMARY: What representatives said during amend. debate

WASHINGTON (BP)–Following is a sample of arguments made during the Sept. 30 debate in the House of Representatives over the Marriage Protection Amendment. The amendment received a majority vote but fell short of the required 290 votes. The final tally was 227-186.

— Sue Myrick, R.-NC. (amendment supporter).

“This bill has come up because same-sex marriage advocates have been using the courts and even local officials — who have intentionally violated the law – to circumvent the democratic process,” Myrick said. “Passing a constitutional amendment will place the debate where it belongs — with the American people.”

— Jim McGovern, D.-Mass. (amendment opponent).

A supporter of same-sex “marriage,” McGovern said the current law, the Defense of Marriage Act, adequately protects the rights of states.

“Under DOMA, states can already refuse to recognize marriages from states with different policies,” he said, adding sarcastically, “I guess that fact doesn’t make for very good press releases or 30-second political attack ads.”

McGovern also asserted that the amendment would overturn civil union and domestic partnership laws in Vermont and California.

— Tom DeLay, R.-Texas. (amendment supporter).

“Many of us who support the Marriage Protection Amendment are saddened that the need for this amendment exists at all,” DeLay said. “The definition of marriage seems to us — and the vast majority of the American people — as a matter of common sense and social reality.

“We would prefer to live in a society in which such debates were unnecessary. But unfortunately, we do not. The question of the future of marriage in America has been forced upon us by activist judges, trying to legislate by the bench.”

DeLay said that the nation eventually will have a uniform definition of marriage. The question, he said, is “whether that definition will be written by individual judges, imposing their political biases on the nation, or written by the people of the United States through their elected representatives to Congress.”

— Barney Frank, D.-Mass. (amendment opponent).

Frank, an open homosexual and a supporter of same-sex “marriage,” called the amendment an “undemocratic effort.”

“Please do not impose your views on the people of Massachusetts,” he said.

Frank added: “What is it your are protecting yourselves against? How do we threaten you? … Let the people of Massachusetts make their own choices, and let loving men and loving women live in peace.”

— Mike Pence, R.-Ind. (amendment supporter).

“The institution of marriage is under attack by activist judges, and it brings us … to this place by necessity where a constitutional amendment is the only way we can express the will of [the American people],” Pence said.

— Todd Akin, R.-Mo. (amendment supporter).

“We all know from experience that kids are best off when they have a mom and a dad, and kids are what this debate is all about,” Akin said. “It’s not about civil rights or the rights of same-sex couples. Same-sex couples are free to live as they choose. This amendment does not change that.”

— John Olver, D.-Mass. (amendment opponent).

Olver said the House should be debating other issues, such as the war in Iraq or health insurance. He also said the amendment would “enshrine discrimination in the United States Constitution.”

“Gay and lesbian Americans deserve the same rights, responsibilities and protections as other citizens,” Olver said.

— Joseph Pitts, R.-Pa. (amendment supporter).

“Don’t try to tell me that people who believe children need moms and dads are bigots. Don’t try to tell me that people who believe in moral absolutes are guilty of moral bigotry. We’re here to protect our kids.”

— Tom Feeney, R.-Fla. (amendment supporter).

“Today we are here to protect the very definition of marriage. … It’s unfortunate the will of the people increasingly is being violated by activist judges as they impose — like philosopher kings — their view of a better way to do things.”

— John Conyers, D.-Mich. (amendment opponent).

Conyers criticized Republicans for bringing up the amendment, saying it was sure to fail.

“The only conceivable point of this amendment is to energize the conservative political base,” he said. “… Let’s leave [the issue] with the states.”

— Jerrold Nadler, D.-N.Y. (amendment opponent).

Nadler said that future Americans will look at the current marriage amendment debate the same way that today’s Americans view the 1950s and 1960s segregation debate.

“[W]e are being asked to amend the Constitution … to single out a single unpopular group and say permanently, ‘You cannot even attempt to convince the legislature of your state to give you the right to marry.'”

— Dennis Kucinich, D.-Ohio (amendment opponent).

“This amendment creates two classes of people based on sexual orientation,” said Kucinich, a supporter of same-sex “marriage.”

“It creates a second-class citizenship. … We could not remain a United States, half slave, half free. We could not remain a United States if the woman’s right to vote or to choice were denied. And we cannot remain united if our brothers and sisters are denied equal protection of the law because of their sexual orientation.”

— J.D. Hayworth, R.-Ariz. (amendment supporter).

“Regardless of the months on the calendar and the so-called political season, the American people have a right to know where their representative stands.”

Addressing amendment opponents, Hayworth said, “Do you truly believe that marriage, the traditional and foundational union between a man and a woman, is discrimination? Once we start treating a child’s need for a mother and father as discrimination, it becomes impossible for the institution of marriage to do its work. If it’s discriminatory to restrict marriage to a man and woman, then why not have three parents or four or more?”

— Kevin Brady, R.-Texas (amendment supporter).

“Our founding fathers and mothers may never have imagined this debate today, but they created a thoughtful process for the American people to decide such matters of importance,” Brady said. “And make no mistake — the definition of marriage will be defined. The only question today we’re debating is by whom — the unelected justices of the federal courts or the American people.”

— Steny Hower, D., Md. (amendment opponent).

“Through their legislatures and courts the states have proven quite capable of determining the legal definition of marriage,” Hower said. “And I believe the proper venue to consider decisions affecting this issue is in state courts and legislatures, and, yes, with the peoples of the individual states.”

— Pat Toomey, R.-Pa. (amendment supporter).

“The definition of marriage is going to be written at the federal level,” Toomey said. “The question here today is whether that’s going to be done by nine men and women wearing black robes, or whether it’s going to be done by the American people — through their elected representatives in Congress and the 50 states — through a very democratic process.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarraige.

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  • Michael Foust