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House Approves Marriage Protection Act

On July 22, the House approved, 233-194, a bill (H.R. 3313) to protect the Defense of Marriage Act)(P.L. 104-199), which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure on July 14 (see The Source, 7/16/04).

Sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), the Marriage Protection Act would bar all federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, from hearing cases concerning the constitutionality of DOMA. The measure also would bar federal courts from hearing cases related to a DOMA provision authorizing states, territories, and American Indian tribes to not recognize marriage licenses of same-sex couples issued in other jurisdictions. Under the bill, cases concerning same-sex marriage would be heard only in state courts.

Arguing that the bill is not “an election year ploy to get votes,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) stated, “I can tell you that for my constituents in Tennessee, they support what we are doing here today, and they are not concerned about whether or not it is an election year…They are concerned about protecting marriage, because they know that marriage is an institution that is at the very core of our existence, and that is why we are here today, to protect marriage.” She added, “I think it is very sad, very sad, that some courts and some activist judges have taken it upon themselves to usurp the will of the people…Already there is a lawsuit that is being brought by same-sex couples in Massachusetts to force other States, like my State of Tennessee, to accept their Massachusetts marriage license, and it is contrary to the Defense of Marriage Act, and it is contrary to the will of the people.”

Explaining that the bill “would seriously undermine the faith of the American people in this Congress, in the courts, and in the principles of separation of powers,” Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) stated, “Our Founders wisely decided that the best way to secure our freedoms and liberties was to establish three coequal branches of government: the Congress, the executive, the Supreme Court; and these three branches of government would have different, but overlapping, authorities to ensure that each branch is subject to the checks and balances. Not only will there be times that they will be in disagreement about a particular issue or law; the structure of the Constitution makes these conflicts inevitable.” She added, “It is a terrible mistake to strip one branch of government from its involvement in evaluating particular laws, and this is so particularly true when considering the courts whose constitutional and historic role has been to defend our liberties. Once this door becomes open, where will it stop? Will this language be added to legislation on issues of abortion, guns, prayer, school choice, affirmative action? How about the USA PATRIOT Act? I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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