Romney: Amendment only way to protect marriage definition

by Michael Foust, posted Tuesday, June 22, 2004 (10 years ago)

WASHINGTON (BP)--Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney urged passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment June 22, telling a Senate committee that without a constitutional solution same-sex “marriage” will spread from his state to all 50 states.

“The decision of Massachusetts is now infringing on the rights of other states and citizens of other states,” Romney, a Republican, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On May 17 Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex “marriage” as a result of a controversial 4-3 ruling by the state’s highest court. Romney and other conservatives warn that the ruling will be used in state and federal courts in an attempt to legalize same-sex “marriage” elsewhere.

Romney was part of a judiciary committee hearing titled “Preserving Traditional Marriage: A View From The States.” Senate leaders have said the amendment will be brought to the floor the week of July 12. It would need 67 votes to pass, although it has considerable opposition –- particularly from Democratic senators. All four Democrats who spoke during the hearing brushed aside the need for an amendment.

But the amendment may have more of a chance to pass than some thought. Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he has seen a whip count showing that 20 Senators are undecided.

“They may decide whether there is a majority or not a majority for this amendment,” Schumer said, rejecting an assertion from Romney that minds already were made up.

Two recent polls have reflected widespread support for an amendment. A CBS News poll showed that 60 percent of adults support an amendment, while a Wirthlin Worldwide poll showed that 67 percent support it.

Romney said that history supports the definition of traditional marriage.

“Has America been wrong about marriage for 200-plus years?” he asked rhetorically. “Are generations that spanned thousands of years, from all the civilizations of the word, wrong about marriage? Are the philosophies and teachings of all the world’s religions simply wrong? Or is it more likely that four people, among the seven that sat on a court in Massachusetts, have erred? I believe that’s the case.”

Marriage, Romney said, is designed primarily for the nurturing of children. The rights of adults, he said, are secondary.

“We should not deconstruct marriage simply to make a statement about the rights of individual adults,” he said. “Forcing marriage to mean all things will ultimately define marriage to mean nothing at all.”

When same-sex couples take their marriage license to other states, Romney said, a host of questions surface: Is the marriage dissolved? Can the couple divorce in another state? How are issues of child support managed?

“The idea that a state can have same-sex marriage and that that will not affect or be imported into other states is not an accurate and fair characterization,” he said.

Romney had pointed exchanges with two Democrats -- Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Richard Durbin of Illinois –- over the issue of the impact of the Massachusetts decision. Leahy asked Romney how Massachusetts’ action resulted in a “crisis for the country.”

“Because Massachusetts has redefined marriage for the entire country,” Romney answered, “and that’s because people who live in Massachusetts or intend at some point to live in Massachusetts will be married there legally and move to other states. And, therefore the definition of marriage will be applied in other states as it is in Massachusetts.”

Leahy responded: “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to wait and see if that happens?”

Romney said it already was happening.

“I can guarantee that there have already been people legally married in Massachusetts who have gone to other states,” Romney said.

A similar exchange occurred between Romney and Durbin.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., who supports the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” asserted that the current language of the Senate amendment would ban Vermont-type civil unions. The dispute came over the interpretation of the amendment’s second sentence: “Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.” The first sentence defines marriage as being the union of a man and a woman.

Romney said the second sentence does not prohibit civil unions.

“[The amendment] says that the constitution of a state shall not be construed to require that ... civil union is required,” Romney said. “But it doesn’t say it is prohibited.”

The Senate panel would have been more unified if Massachusetts had legalized polygamy, Romney said.

“If my state had begun polygamous marriages, and we were providing polygamous marriages right now, I would believe that people would recognize that there was a need to have an immediate constitutional amendment to prevent that,” he said, adding that the nation must have a “consistent” definition of marriage.


For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit

http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

Download Story