Americans United Hails Failure Of Marriage Amendment In House

Vote Was Scheduled To Give Election Ammo To Religious Right, Watchdog Group Says

A federal marriage amendment failed today in a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State hailed the derailment of the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment,” but criticized the House leadership for playing politics with the Constitution.

The House voted 227-186 in favor of H.J.Res. 106, but that tally fell short of the two-thirds necessary to pass a constitutional amendment. The amendment, which is being heavily promoted by Religious Right organizations, would limit marriage to one man and one woman. It is designed to outlaw same-sex marriages.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “This amendment posed a grave threat to the separation of church and state, and I’m delighted that it failed. Some religious traditions perform same-sex unions, and some do not. It’s wrong for the government to favor the religious rituals of the majority over those of the minority.”

Lynn added that it is deplorable that members of Congress are using this issue as a pawn in election-year politics. House leaders knew the votes were lacking to adopt the amendment.

“The only reason for this vote,” said Lynn, “is to give the Christian Coalition and similar groups another line item on their biased ‘voter guides.’”

Lynn noted that during a national meeting of the Christian Coalition in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23-25, staffers with the group bragged that they would distribute millions of “voter guides” this year.

The guides, Coalition Field Director Bill Thomson said, “are our greatest weapon. It is the best weapon in our arsenal. It is our B-2 bomber.”

In addition, the Family Research Council (FRC) has pledged to include three FMA-related votes on its congressional scorecards this year. (The FRC will even rate lawmakers on whether they cosponsored the amendment.)

The Coalition, the FRC and other Religious Right groups, Americans United asserts, are eager to get a vote on the amendment, put the results on guides and scorecards and use them to tip the balance in close House races around the country.

A wide array of religious organizations opposes the amendment. More than two dozen faith groups sent a letter to House members today, urging them to reject the FMA. Among the signers were: the Alliance of Baptists; the American Friends Service Committee (Quaker); the American Jewish Committee; the Episcopal Church, USA; the Loretto Women's Network (Catholic Order); the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the National Sikh Center; the Metropolitan Community Churches; the Office of the General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); the Union for Reform Judaism; the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.