Nadler Denounces President's Attack on Constitution, Civil Rights

Feb 23, 2004

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, today rebuked President Bush for calling on Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. Nadler's statement follows:

"By stating his support of a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the President is trying to write discrimination into the Constitution, for the first time amending our sacred document to deny civil rights to a large number of Americans. It is shameful for the President to undermine this country's historic commitment to protect our citizenry's right to equal protection under the law.

"Let me be perfectly clear: As the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, I take matters of Constitutional integrity extremely seriously. For instance, I do not believe that the government should be in the business of telling any religious organization what it can or cannot do. The right for religious institutions to protect their own destiny is a sacred principle; however, that is not what we are talking about here. What we are talking about is another extremely important Constitutional principle: the right to ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law. If this amendment were to pass, it would permanently deny a large group of Americans access to over 1,000 rights and responsibilities under federal law that all Americans should enjoy, including access to certain Social Security benefits, immigration rights, and veterans' survivor benefits.

"I find it also deeply disturbing that the President's call for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is an obvious attempt to take the focus off of his dismal record on economic and social issues that truly affect all Americans. Rather than confronting and offering remedies to address the historic loss of 3 million jobs, the largest deficits in American history, and inequities in public education and health care, the President is playing politics by choosing instead to focus on the issue of same sex marriage to divide the American people and drive a wedge in the 2004 campaign."