Log Cabin Declares Victory Over Radical Right on Anti-Family Amendment

Supporters of FMA Afraid to Vote on Actual Amendment

July 14, 2004 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) – Today's procedural vote in the United States Senate on the anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment is an overwhelming defeat for the radical right. "This is a victory for principle over politics, hope over fear, and real family values over anti-gay propaganda," said Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.

"As many as 60 Senators were prepared to vote against the amendment. Rather than face certain defeat, the radical right took the easy way out – by turning this into a largely party-line procedural vote. For six months, the radical right has been clamoring for an up or down vote. Today they are hiding behind a procedural vote because their campaign to write discrimination into the American Constitution has been an unqualified failure," said Guerriero.

"Proponents of the FMA didn't have the courage to allow an up or down vote on their anti-gay proposal because they didn't want to face an overwhelming defeat," said Log Cabin Political Director Chris Barron.

In a moving floor speech on Tuesday night, Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona denounced the anti-family FMA, "[t]he constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." Senator McCain attacked this discriminatory amendment because, "[i]t usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

Senator McCain's comments echoed the words of then Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney from the 2000 campaign. Cheney said he believed the question of regulating the recognition of same-sex relationships was best left to the states. The Vice President's powerful comments from 2000 have been the centerpiece of Log Cabin's national television advertising campaign against this anti-family amendment.

Senator McCain's opposition to the amendment came just hours after Senator John Warner (R-VA) took to the floor and announced his opposition to the anti-family amendment. In addition to Senator McCain and Senator Warner's floor statements, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters on Tuesday that, "I see no need for a constitutional amendment... at a time when we already have a federal law on the books that protects the rights of states to define marriage as between a man and a woman."

Log Cabin has made it clear from day one that this debate is not about protecting marriage, but is really about protecting the Constitution and protecting federalism. Over this past weekend, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) added to the growing voices of Republican opposition to this unnecessary amendment by stating, "I believe that marriage should be defined as a marriage between man and woman, but I don't think that a constitutional amendment is necessary."

Even some of the most conservative members of the Senate expressed reservations about amending the Constitution. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) said, "a federal constitutional Amendment is premature at this time, as federal law already gives authority to the states in recognizing marriage."

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) made his opposition to this amendment clear. "I do not support amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same sex marriage at this time."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) courageously spoke out against the amendment in the midst of a difficult primary campaign against an anti-gay opponent. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) went as far as to circulate a letter to his colleagues asking fellow Republicans to reject this anti-family amendment.

This growing chorus of Republicans in opposition to the amendment forced the pro-amendment forces to play procedural games to avoid an embarrassing loss. "The reality is that Senator Frist, Senator Santorum, Senator Allard and other supporters of this discriminatory amendment knew that as many as a dozen or more Republicans would have voted against it," said Log Cabin Political Director Chris Barron.

"Log Cabin is proud to have led the conservative voices that rose up to oppose this unnecessary and discriminatory amendment," continued Guerriero. "Regardless of how you feel about civil marriage equality or civil unions, true conservatives oppose this amendment because, as Senator McCain so eloquently pointed out, it violates the very principles our party represents."

"We are proud of our grassroots members around the nation who joined the fight to defend the Constitution. We are also proud of all those Senators who spoke out against the amendment, including our Republican friends who stood up to the far right's bullying and intimidation," said Guerriero.

Inclusive Republicans from coast to coast joined Log Cabin in opposition to the FMA: from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the west coast, to the three hosts of the upcoming GOP convention on the east coast, including New York Governor George Pataki, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On February 24th of this year, President Bush announced his support for an anti-family Constitutional amendment. Five months later, only 19 Republican Senators have co-sponsored FMA. The radical right hoped that the President's endorsement of their amendment would galvanize Republican support for this anti-family proposal. Thanks to conservative voices such as Log Cabin's grassroots members and allies, however, the predicted groundswell of GOP support for this amendment in the Senate never materialized.

One of Log Cabin's first priorities in the debate over this discriminatory amendment was to show that FMA was not only about civil marriage, but that it also jeopardized civil unions and domestic partner legislation. In a stunning last minute admission that the FMA would prohibit civil unions, some pro-amendment forces sought to introduce a new amendment.

This new amendment was necessary because the language of the FMA makes it clear that civil unions created through the Constitutional process, such as those proposed in Massachusetts as an alternative to civil marriage, will not be permitted. Additionally, other civil union legislation and even domestic partner benefits may be threatened. The amendment's drafters do not support civil unions or domestic partnerships and were not going to support any legislation that does. Log Cabin made the successful case to the Senate that this was a classic Trojan horse.

Today's victory over the far right is not the end of this battle. This issue is not going away anytime soon. Anti-family leaders in the House and Senate have made it clear that they will continue pushing for discriminatory measures in both chambers. The House may consider anti-gay legislation in the coming weeks, and may take up the anti-family amendment this fall. "While we should celebrate today's victory, we also need to realize that the fight isn't over. The far right has made it clear that they intend to force this issue on the American public and they intend to grind all other work of our legislative bodies to a halt all in the name of pushing their divisive social agenda," said Guerriero.

Log Cabin Republicans has been leading a coordinated effort to defend the Constitution. This campaign includes a television advertisement, prints ads, the most intense lobbying effort in its history, and the grassroots mobilization of Log Cabin members across America.

Log Cabin commends other conservative organizations, as well as local, state and national leaders who have publicly opposed the FMA. Log Cabin also commends other gay and lesbian organizations that joined with Log Cabin, across party lines, to defend our Constitution and protect gay and lesbian families. Finally, Log Cabin would like to thanks its grassroots membership all across this country. "Log Cabin members and our allies across the nation have worked courageously to defend our Constitution. This fight is not over. We remain firmly dedicated to winning the culture war waged on the Republican Party and the American people by the voices of intolerance on the radical right. History and decency are on our side," concluded Guerriero.