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Barney Frank, 40 others, slam GOP on marriage amendment

by Peter Cassels
Contributor
Wednesday Sep 28, 2005
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 40 members of the Massachusetts and California congressional delegations have written to Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman urging him to repudiate what they term false statements regarding the Republican policy position on gay marriage.

Led by Congressmen Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Howard Berman, D-Calif., the group of 41 wrote the letter because they represent two state legislatures that have voted this summer for marriage fairness, a news release from Frank’s office said. Mehlman had previously stated that the definition of marriage is the domain of state legislatures. However, by promoting President George W. Bush’s constitutional amendment, it would make any decision by a state legislature null and void. Frank pointed out that Mehlman’s position is in direct conflict with the votes of two legislatures.

“We do not write in the hope of persuading you to change your position on the amendment,” the letter states. “We do hope that we can persuade you to be honest about at least this aspect of matters involving sexual orientation -- namely, we strongly request that you correct the blatantly false statement you have made about the effect of the amendment, and acknowledge that if the President’s Constitutional amendment were to become part of the Constitution, it would cancel any decision by any state to allow same-sex marriage, whether made by referendum, the state legislature and governor, or court decision.

“We write to ask you to correct a blatantly inaccurate statement you have made about one of the Bush Administration’s high priority initiatives.”

The amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman would preempt any state action to the contrary, no matter how democratic the means by which the state made that choice, the letter points out.

In Massachusetts, the legislature recently voted overwhelmingly to reject an amendment to the state constitution, which would have negated the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

In California, the legislature approved civil marriages for same-sex couples, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced that he will veto the bill.

“So we have a situation in which one state has already voted by its constitutional processes through the Legislature to allow same-sex marriage to stand, and another has indicated strong support by a legislative majority, and may well within the next couple of years legally enact same-sex marriage,” the letter to Mehlman reads. “In both cases, the Constitutional amendment that you are trying to help the President pass would cancel these decisions.”

Among those signing the letter was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.

Peter Cassels is a recipient of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Excellence in Journalism award. His e-mail address is pcassels@edgepublications.com.

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