Soulforce Responds to Bush’s Endorsement of Proposed Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

Calls President Bush’s actions “divisive, unjust, and abusive”

Press Release: 02/24/04
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592 Laura@soulforce.org

(Lynchburg, VA) – Soulforce leaders today condemned President Bush’s endorsement of a Federal Marriage Amendment, asking people of faith and others to speak out against the blatant attempt by the government to make 2nd class citizens of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people (GLBT).

President Bush stated that he supports an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman because the recent actions in San Francisco and Massachusetts have, “created confusion on an issue that requires clarity." He also stated that “marriage” could not be separated from its “cultural, religious and natural” roots.

Rev. Jimmy Creech, Chair of the Soulforce Board of Directors disagrees, “Legally sanctioned marriage is fundamentally a legal contract between two people who commit themselves to each other to share there lives and their possessions in the creation of a family. This does not need clarification. Adding gender requirements to marriage, and amending the U.S. Constitution, does not clarify, it only creates injustice and inequality.”

“The only thing that needs clarified is that the U.S. Constitution is not a document for abusing U.S. citizens,” said Laura Montgomery Rutt, spokesperson for Soulforce, Inc. “The purpose of the Constitution is to protect citizens from being abused by the government, and any Constitutional Amendment that makes 2nd class citizens of millions of Americans is not only abusive, but it is divisive and unjust as well. We appeal to all fair-minded citizens, religious leaders, and people of faith, to speak out against this kind of abuse!”

The proposed Amendment introduced by Marilyn Musgrave, (R-Co) states: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

Many organizations that support equal marriage rights believe that this sweeping amendment will not only take away existing rights, but roll back any gains made in the last 30 years.

“Ironically, this amendment is NOT about ‘protecting marriage’,” stated Mel White, Founder of Soulforce, Inc. “It is an attempt by the President and fundamentalist Christians to deny permanently the civil rights of GLBT individuals, unmarried couples, and their families, and rob them of the more than1,000 rights and protections that can be obtained through civil marriage.”

Soulforce Leaders Thrilled with Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Opinion that Civil Unions Not Equal to Marriage

Press Release: February 4, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592 Laura@soulforce.org

(Lynchburg, VA) – Soulforce leaders expressed jubilation today that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that civil unions will not satisfy the court ordered requirement of granting full rights of marriage to same-gender couples in Massachusetts.

"This is an exciting day for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and their allies. We have always believed that creating a separate second-class status for same-gender couples, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships is not equality, and that separate is inherently unequal,” said Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. “We are so glad the SJC in Massachusetts also recognizes that their state Constitution strictly forbids any system that creates a separate, second-class status of citizens.”

The ruling was in response to the Massachusetts Senate’s request for an advisory opinion from the SJC as to whether a civil unions bill would satisfy the SJC’s ruling that granted equal marriage rights in the state of Massachusetts to same-gender couples in the case of Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health.

On January 14, Soulforce signed on to an “Amici Curiae Brief of Civil Rights Leaders” filed by GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) and other legal experts who successfully argued that the previous decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) granting equal marriage rights would not be satisfied with a “civil unions” bill.

The brief was written on behalf of John Lewis, one of the original speakers at the 1963 March on Washington, the Boston Bar Association, and 27 other local and national civil rights groups.

In recent months, Massachusetts had become ground zero for the religious right’s campaign to deny GLBT people equal marriage rights. In just 7 days, a Constitutional Convention in Massachusetts, which brings together members of both houses, meets to consider a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, the earliest this could happen based on Massachusetts law would be 2006. Marriages for same-gender couples are set to begin on May 17, 2004.

Text of the most recent opinion can be found at
http://glad.org/marriage/SJC_Advisory_Opinion_020404.shtml