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News :: Gender
President Voices Support for Marriage Amendment Amidst Vocal Opposition
21 Dec 2003
Modified: 11:48:36 PM
President George W. Bush threw his ideological weight into the looming battle over the civil rights of gay, lesbian, intersex, and transgender Americans. The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) decries these efforts to destabilize gay and gender-variant families in the hopes of garnering reelection support through religiopolitical bigotry.
In a televised interview with ABC News Primetime’s Dianne Sawyer on December 18th, President Bush stated, “If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that.”

The President’s reference to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, brings joy to those who would deny gay, lesbian, intersex and transsexual families the more than 1,000 federal benefits that accrue to heterosexual families. Even with this pronouncement, archconservative organizations such as the Family Research Council still criticized the president for offering any hope of government recognition of same sex family rights. Meanwhile, Bush’s actions bring cries of outrage from those who would be victims of constitutional bigotry and discrimination.

“One would expect the President would exhibit more leadership and less tendency to buckle under to extremist elements that make up his party’s base,” said Vanessa Edwards Foster, Chair of NTAC. “Once again, we’re bitterly disappointed.”

Foster added that the FMA will “throw intersex and transgender citizens’ marriages into chaos, and may well deny them the right to marry anyone.”

“Many moderates in the GOP, and even conservatives like Vice-President Cheney, have voiced their displeasure with taking on such a specious bill,” Foster added. “Clearly the knee-jerk right-wing political machine is alive and well and dominating America.”

As tensions and rhetoric rise, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has called for volunteers to participate in acts of civil disobedience. A widely distributed NGLTF announcement urges lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other fair-minded people willing to engage in direct acts of civil disobedience to e-mail their contact information to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at ngltf (at) in order to be included in planning actions across the country.

President Bush seemed to offer some wiggle room by adding, “Whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they’re allowed to make, so long as it’s embraced by the state.” The proposed Constitutional amendment, however, says that no state law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred on unmarried couples or groups.

Although Mr. Bush is not really offering anything to those not included in the heterosexual definition of marriage, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wrote, “I am concerned that the President thinks counterfeit institutions such as same-sex unions are OK and do not threaten to devalue the real thing. Counterfeit marriages called “civil unions” pose a serious threat to the health of our culture, and while the President may believe this is an issue to be resolved at the state level, he should use his moral leadership to steer states away from such culture-threatening unions - not encourage them by showing indifference or political tolerance.”

“The Federal Marriage Amendment would undermine United States’ Constitution. There is a part seemingly forgotten by those who would deny anyone but themselves rights,” stated Jerry McCracken of FTM Informational Network. “How is it that the ‘Christian Right’ are the only ones allowed civil rights in this day and age? Our forefathers must be turning in their graves at this assault on civil liberties.”

“Marriage is a legal agreement more than a religious agreement,” added NTAC chair, Foster, “but even considering the religious concept of marriage, why should one faith have precedence over other faiths which have no problem with same-sex unions? Allowing one religion the ability to change the constitution virtually sanctions it as the state-recognized religion.”

The FMA is an attempt to make discrimination a guiding principle in the fundamental law of our land, the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the president’s declaration is to appease the uncharitable appetite of his religious right supporters. Organizations like the FRC clearly want no tolerance shown to GLBT families.

In this season of peace, it’s time for all Americans – Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists and pagans, gays, and straights alike – to call for an end to intolerance, and an end to Republican attacks on the family. NTAC urges all Americans to stand up for civil freedom and civil equality. Write and call President Bush, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, church leaders, anti-gay organizations, and the media and tell them to end prejudice and to end attacks on gay, intersex, and transgender couples and their children. Comments for the president may be called in to (202) 456-1111. Congressional contact information may be obtained at the NTAC website at

“The President should drop this FMA folly,” added NTAC’s Foster, “and focus on important issues such as bringing more jobs back to America!”

- 30 -

Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a §501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.
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