Human Rights Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 7, 2006
11:07 AM

CONTACT: Human Rights Campaign
202/628-4160

 
Politics of Discrimination and Distraction Fail as Senate Resoundingly Defeats Federal Marriage Amendment
 
WASHINGTON - June 7 -

President Bush and the Republican leadership gambled their dwindling political capital on a discriminatory amendment and came up empty,’ said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. ‘With the addition of Senators Specter and Gregg, not only did every senator who voted against discrimination in 2004 stand with us today but momentum is on the side of equality.’

The Senate voted 49 to 48 today to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, a measure that would have denied marriage to same-sex couples and seriously threatened civil unions and domestic partnerships. Seven Republicans joined 41 Democrats in voting down the measure, which opponents said was a politically motivated distraction from real challenges facing the country.

“President Bush and the Republican leadership gambled their dwindling political capital on a discriminatory amendment and came up empty,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “With the addition of Senators Specter and Gregg, not only did every senator who voted against discrimination in 2004 stand with us today but momentum is on the side of equality. This is a resounding defeat against discrimination."

Solmonese continued, “For the House to now take up a bill that’s dead and twice failed would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt this is nothing more than election-year posturing.

“The quarter of a million postcards we delivered on behalf of Human Rights Campaign members made the strength of opposition known on Capitol Hill,” added Solmonese. “Many thanks to these members for speaking out, to our allies for working side-by-side with us in defeating this measure and, especially, to the senators who saw through this thinly veiled attempt to divide the American people with discrimination.”

Two senators, Sens. Specter and Gregg, changed their 2004 votes — both voting against cloture. Republican Sens. Sununu, Chafee, Snowe, McCain, Collins, Specter and Gregg all voted against the measure. The procedural vote, known as cloture, needed 60 votes to pass and received 49 votes today. By defeating cloture, the vote killed the amendment. Had it passed cloture, the amendment would have needed 67 votes to pass the Senate.

In 2004, the Senate and House both fell far short of the two-thirds vote necessary to send the amendment to the states for ratification. In the Senate, the vote against cloture was 50 to 48, with six Republicans voting no. The Republicans who opposed cloture were Sens. Campbell, Chafee, Collins, McCain, Snowe and Sununu. In the House, the vote was 227 to 186.

Many prominent Republicans and conservatives expressed opposition to the amendment in 2004, including Vice President Cheney, Arlen Specter, Rudy Guiliani, Chuck Hagel, David Dreier, George Pataki, Bob Barr, Alan Simpson, George Will and David Brooks. This year, those numbers increased to former Sen. Danforth who called the amendment “silly” and “contrary to basic Republican principles.” Also, First Lady Laura Bush was recently quoted as saying, “I don’t think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously.”

After it was announced that Sen. McCain would deliver the commencement address at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, the many media stories prompted McCain to reaffirm his opposition to the amendment several times.

In response to a letter sent by Bill Frist in late April outlining the Federal Marriage Amendment as a key vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “We owe it to the American people to focus on their needs, and not waste a single day focusing on partisan needs. That means setting aside an issue like the marriage amendment, and tackling the issue of gas prices instead.”

A long list of African-American leaders has spoken out against the amendment. The late Coretta Scott King told college students once that “a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay-bashing. … Instead of trivializing the Constitution, we need some laws that give families the kind of help they really need, like job training and child care assistance, stronger schools and health insurance coverage for every family.”

Julian Bond, Rep. John Lewis, the Rev. Andrew Young, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Leonard Pitts, the Rev. Peter Gomes and Dr. Henry Louis Gates have all been public in their strong opposition to the amendment. The NAACP also opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment and testified against the amendment in 2004.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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