New York -- The National Lawyers Guild strongly condemns the constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage proposed by President Bush on Monday, June 5, 2006 as an attack on the civil and human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. The amendment would interfere with the rights of states to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Guild criticized the President for targeting the GLBTQI community in an attempt to drum up support from his conservative followers at a time when his approval rating is at a record low and he is being characterized as one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history. The Guild noted that most observers believe that the proposed amendment will not receive the two-thirds majority necessary for it to pass in the House and Senate. The Guild concluded that the same sex marriage amendment is a political tactic, in which Bush seeks to promote homophobia and fear to increase his own popularity. “Although polls indicate that support for same-sex marriage is on the rise, queer people still face harassment and discrimination in our society. Rather than address the real issues contributing to his low ratings, such as the unpopular and unjust war on Iraq, the president is pandering to the religious right and seeking to scapegoat the GLBTQI community.” said Mel Campagna, Queer Committee member and Legal Worker VP for the National Lawyers Guild.
NLG President Michael Avery stated, "If this Amendment were to pass it would be the first time that the Constitution had been amended to deny any group of citizens the equal protection of the law. President Bush is joining the politics of fear with the politics of hate in a way that is fundamentally un-American."
The amendment is unnecessary to protect freedom of religion because the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations have the right to decide who will be consecrated in holy matrimony without interference from the government. At the same time, the First Amendment protects all citizens from government mandated religious beliefs. The Guild believes that if passed the amendment would hamper the protections of every citizen provided by the First Amendment and erode the power of the Bill of Rights. “The right to marry the person whom one chooses and all the protections and benefits afforded to marriage are basic civil rights which should be guaranteed to every citizen, without regard to another person’s particular religious beliefs” said Anne Befu, co-chair of the NLG Queer Committee.
Founded in 1937 as the first racially integrated national bar association, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States, with more than 200 chapters.