Scroll To Top

Marriage Protection Act condemned on both sides of aisle

Marriage Protection Act condemned on both sides of aisle

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the only openly lesbian member of Congress, on Thursday derided a GOP-backed measure stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. "With this bill, we face no less than the specter of a sign posted on the federal courthouse door which reads, 'You may not defend your constitutional rights in this court,'" Baldwin (D-Wis.) said shortly before the House passed the bill on a mostly party-line vote. "'You may not seek equal protection here. You may not petition your government for redress here.' Today, the 'you' is gay and lesbian American citizens, but who will be next?" Baldwin was later joined by former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, who criticized his former colleagues Thursday for passing the antigay legislation, saying it was unnecessary and possibly unconstitutional. Barr, who has expressed opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, said the House bill was "just as dangerous." Barr has been a fierce opponent of gun control and abortion rights and also opposes gay marriage. However, he said the constitutional amendment and the Marriage Protection Act would take away from states the power to define marriage. "They raise an awful lot of red flags," Barr said of the proposals. The politician perhaps best remembered for leading the charge to impeach President Clinton spoke on a panel about same-sex marriage at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He served four terms in Congress before losing a primary campaign in 2002. Barr was the primary sponsor of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage federally as a heterosexual union and allows individual states to deny recognition to marriages performed in other states. However, the 1996 law applies only to federal marriage benefits embedded in such things as tax law and survivor payments and leaves states the choice of how to define marriage. Baldwin, who made the closing argument for Democrats in their unsuccessful attempt to defeat Thursday's bill, spoke loudly, pointing her finger at times. But she made no mention of her own sexual orientation. The bill, which faces an uphill battle in the Senate, would strip the Supreme Court and other federal courts of their jurisdiction to rule on challenges to state bans on gay marriages under a provision of DOMA. Baldwin said the legislation "would do grave damage to the republic.... Enacting court-stripping legislation would seriously undermine the faith of the American people in this Congress, in the courts, and in the principles of separation of powers." Another Wisconsin lawmaker, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, took the closing arguments for Republicans. "My colleague from Wisconsin says that this bill slams the door of the federal courthouse to people who wish to exercise their constitutional rights," said Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "Well, I spent a lot of time in Madison, as a law student and as a state legislator, and the current federal courthouse is just a few blocks away from Dane County courthouse." He said that court is just as equipped to handle claims on the law. "Marriage is under attack as a result of the 4-3 decision of the supreme judicial court of Massachusetts," Sensenbrenner said, referring to a Massachusetts state court decision allowing same-sex marriages. "Marriage is the foundation upon which any civilized society has been based, long before the United States of America was established and the Constitution was ratified in 1789."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff