Proposed Federal Marriage Ammendment is Unconstitutional

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Dear Editor,

I am writing this E-mail as the proposed Federal Marriage Ammendment (FMA), I believe is unconstitutional and if passed will affect my civil rights as an openly out and gay man. I am a resident of Philadelphia since August of 1999, and I would like the paper to consider doing a story on this issue as it is very important for the civil rights of all GLBT Americans. I stress the words CIVIL RIGHTS!! I am not asking anyone to change their religious beliefs. I am asking you to consider the civil rights of many Americans that could be affected.

Two websites in support of why FMA should not pass are as follows: and

Following are further articles that also support why FMA should not pass and why it is unconstitutional.

News Release from HRC on April 4, 2003

Relativity …

By Winnie Stachelberg, HRC Political Director

Albert Einstein – arguably one of the greatest minds of the last century, and perhaps of all time – once said “the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” As tax day looms, it poses additional challenges for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as our families often pay more taxes for fewer rights than most Americans.

Take, for example, domestic partner benefits. More and more, corporate America is offering DP benefits so that gay and lesbian employees will have the same access to health care coverage for their partners that other employees do. The flip side of the coin is that straight employees are not taxed on the health insurance that their employers provide to their spouses, while gay employees – who cannot legally marry in this country – are taxed for their DP benefits. It seems Einstein was right; equality under the federal tax code, like everything else, is relative.

Retirement savings are another huge issue of “relative” equality for GLBT families. For instance, say a lesbian couple – Jane and Joan – spend their careers saving for the future and planning a retirement together. Then, tragically, Jane passes away prematurely. Even though she may have willed her savings to Joan, that money may be subject to significant inheritance taxes.

If Jane and Joan had been married, their savings would have been protected, but without the right to marry they do not receive the same protections that straight couples do. It has been said that death and taxes are the great equalizers. That may be true for some, but for the gay community, it’s all relative.

A report released earlier this year on the 2000 Census showed that roughly one third of gay couples in this country are raising children. Those couples, in many cases, are unable to claim the same tax credits for their children that married couples do.

In effect, under the current tax code, GLBT families are prevented from, and penalized for, taking steps to provide the same security and stability for their families that most American families take for granted.

Without the right to marry, same-sex couples are denied more than 1,000 rights and responsibilities under federal law – many of which are tax related, according to a 1997 study conducted by the General Accounting Office.

Einstein may have thought that income tax was the most difficult thing to understand – but he was never taxed on his sexual orientation.

It doesn’t take a quantum physicist to see that there is gross inequity in the federal tax code as it applies to GLBT Americans. The time has come for meaningful protections and equity for GLBT families – equality should not be relative under the tax law.

Excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle article dated Wednesday, August 13, 2003. For the full article please visit this link:

Frank [Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass] noted that DOMA [1996 Defense of Marriage Act]passed in part on states’ rights grounds: It allows a state not to recognize gay marriages from another state. A constitutional amendment forcing states not to recognize gay marriage, by contrast, “is a total flip,” he said, noting the Vice President Dick Cheney argued during the 2000 campaign that marriage should remain a state domain.

Conservatives who have long warned that the federal government has too much power over the states find a constitutional amendment depriving states of one of their most long-standing jurisdictions — marriage laws — highly unpalatable. Even a chief DOMA sponsor, former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., has said he opposes a constitutional amendment on those grounds.

Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the problem with the amendment is that “it defines marriage for the entire country, which I find inconsistent with the federalism principle at the core of the Constitution. Family law has always been a state issue, not a federal issue.”

Pilon compared the gay marriage amendment to attempts to use the Constitution to ban flag burning and protect victims’ rights. “The Constitution divides power between the federal and state governments for the purpose of pitting power against power so that no one locus of power becomes oppressive,” he said. “It’s probably the most fundamental principle in our political structure.”

But, he said, “Sometimes family values trump constitutional values for conservatives.”

Excerpt from the News Release from HRC on September 4, 2003


“The General Accounting Office found in a 1997 study that there are more than 1,000 federal rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities that same-sex couples are currently denied as they are not permitted civil marriage licenses. Those rights include protections as fundamental as being able to visit a partner in the hospital and make decisions for them should they be unable to, the ability to inherit property without a will or tax penalties, and access to social security survivor benefits.”

Thank you for making it to the end of this letter and for your consideration of doing a full story that FMA is unconstitutional and will affect the Civil Rights of many GLBT Americans.


Jim Pope