House Begins Debate on DOMA

“While this measure is not a cure-all… it will keep federal judges from striking down the federal DOMA"
( [email protected] ) Jul 22, 2004 04:14 PM EDT

On Thursday, July 22, House Republicans and Democrats began discussions on the Marriage Protection Act (MPA) – a new arsenal in the battle to protect traditional marriage, which political observers say will easily pass.

Federal judges, whom are unelected and given lifetime appointments, "must not be allowed to rewrite marriage policy for the states," Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., said, starting the debate at the House for the first time.

The MPA, unlike the Federal Marriage Amendment that failed to garner the two-third majority needed to pass at the Senate last week, needs only a simple majority to be ratified. The legislation specifically protects the current Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 from being “reviewed” or “revised” by the courts. Should the law pass, even the Supreme Court would be stripped of its jurisdiction to rule or challenge state bans on gay “marriages.”

The Bush administration voiced support to the MPA, alongside pro-family and evangelical Christian leaders. However, Democrats attacked the MPA, calling it an “election-year attempt” to stir-up debate. Democratic leaders at the House compared the Republicans’ opposition to gay “marriage” to Southerner’s opposition to desegregation.

"Today, it's gay marriage. Tomorrow, it could be something else. It's very dangerous for any Congress to move down this road," said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Republicans defended their stance, saying the issue is too important to ignore.

"Simply put, if federal courts don't have jurisdiction over marriage issues, they can't hear them. And if they can't hear cases regarding marriage policy, they can't redefine this sacred institution," said Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., author of the bill.

Evangelical Christian leaders also expressed the importance of the new bill and encouraged others to support the measure.

“While this measure is not a cure-all… it will contain potential judicial activism of states like Mass. where unelected judges redefined marriage, keeping federal judges from striking down the federal DOMA, and imposing same-sex" marriage" on all the states. Contact your Representative today, and ask him/her to vote for The Marriage Protection Act,” the pro-family Family Research Council wrote in a statement.

The measure is H.R. 3313