'Marriage Protection Act' Passes House
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Calls Vote 'Disgusting'
by Sheri A. Lunn, Director of Communications
Task Force Communications Department
Sheri A. Lunn, Director of Communications
Statement from Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director:
"This is a sad day for all Americans, not just because the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that seeks to deprive gay and lesbian Americans access to federal courts to challenge the ugly Defense of Marriage Act. It is particularly sad because 233 members of Congress ignored their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by voting in favor of a measure that is blatantly unconstitutional.
On the positive side, 194 Members of Congress rejected this mean-spirited, divisive, disgusting and clearly unlawful bill. And, it is now clear that - as in the U.S. Senate - the "Federal Marriage Amendment" is far short of the two-thirds majority (290 votes) it would need to pass."
For more information:
Lambda Legal (http://www.lambdalegal.org)
House vote results: (http://clerk.house.gov/evs2004/roll410.xml)
The Marriage Protection Act (MPA) seeks to strip power from all federal courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - from hearing cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Most legal scholars agree this act is unconstitutional for several reasons.
This "court stripping" would interfere with the a primary purpose of the federal courts, to interpret and decide on questions of federal law, such as DOMA. The act would interfere with our system of checks and balances which is put in place to counteract instances in which one branch of the government oversteps its bounds. This act would severely impede the independence of the court system, undermining the role of the federal courts and Supreme Court.
While the Constitution gives authority to Congress to establish lower federal courts and their jurisdictions (e.g., the Circuit Courts of Appeal, Bankruptcy Courts, etc.), Congress has never passed a law depriving the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases involving constitutional matters. All sides agree that the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act will be based on Constitutional issues, including its Full Faith and Credit and Equal Protection clauses.
Similar "court stripping" bills have been introduced in the past, including ones to take away federal court jurisdiction over cases involving abortion and flag burning. These measures have died in committee because members have recognized their unconstitutionality.
Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was the first national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization and remains the movement's leading voice for freedom, justice, and equality. We work to build the grassroots political strength of our community by training state and local activists and leaders and organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation. Our Policy Institute, the community's premiere think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a world that respects and makes visible the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society. Headquartered in Washington, DC, we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Cambridge.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
1325 Massachusetts Ave. NW Suite 600 . Washington, DC 20005
. FAX . TTY . [email protected]