By Dawn Wolfe
WASHINGTON – Sen. Wayne Allard reintroduced the Federal Marriage Amendment on Jan. 24 under a new name – the “Marriage Protection Amendment.” If added to the U.S. Constitution, the amendment would ban equal marriage rights and deny the ability to provide any protections to same-sex couples, such as domestic partnerships and civil unions.
According to Senator Allard’s office, the entire Senate Republican leadership team has signed on as initial co-sponsors of the amendment. This includes Senate Leader Bill Frist (TN), Republican Whip Mitch McConnell (KY), Republican Conference Chair Rick Santorum (PA) and Republican Conference Secretary Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX).
Neither Michigan Senator has signed as a co-sponsor, nor did they vote to continue debate on the amendment when it was brought to the Senate floor last July. A spokesperson for Senator Carl Levin confirmed that the Senator is still opposed to the amendment for the reasons he stated during his July statement from the floor, which in part indicated support for civil unions and domestic partner benefits. Senator Debbie Stabenow also voted against the amendment in its first incarnation.
LGBT leaders respond
Local LGBT leaders responded to the news with a mixture of anger and determination.
Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation, said, “We’re disappointed that once again this divisive and mean-spirited legislation is being introduced. This time, however, it’s not bi-partisan. They’ve lost Democratic support in the Senate, so there’s still hope that they will not be able to muster the two-thirds necessary,” to pass the amendment.
Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan, expressed her hope that our community will join together to fight the amendment. “I think that this is just an example that we’re going to have many, many major fights in the near future, and that now is the most important time ever to be an activist and to come together as a community,” she said. “If we don’t all work together, we are in trouble.”
Chris Swope, executive director of Michigan Equality, said, “I think it’s a shame that federal legislators feel the continued need to bully the LGBT community. I think that this is an unnecessary amendment, and it works against the freedoms our nation cherishes.”