Cornyn Addresses Senate On Importance of Defense Of Marriage Act


In: All News   Posted 08/01/2003
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, addressed the U.S. Senate Friday on the importance of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Recent and pending cases, before the U.S. Supreme Court and the state court of Massachusetts, raise serious questions regarding the future of both the family and the traditional definition of marriage throughout America as embodied in the Defense of Marriage Act. "I believe it is important that the Senate consider what steps are needed to safeguard the institution of marriage DOMA has protected since 1996,” Sen. Cornyn said. “In very simple and easy to read language, the Defense of Marriage Act clarified that a marriage is the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and that a spouse is a husband or wife of the opposite sex. That declaration did not break any new ground, or set any new precedent. It simply reaffirmed for purposes of Federal law the traditional definition of marriage.” Sen. Cornyn will hold a hearing in the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution soon after the August recess to find out what steps, if any, are required to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and the Congressional intent embodied in that measure. "I hope that my colleagues, including the bipartisan majority of this body who overwhelmingly supported DOMA in 1996, will join me in these efforts… I believe that we must take care to do whatever it takes to ensure that the principles defined in the Defense of Marriage Act remain the law of land,” Cornyn said. -- Below is the complete text of Sen. Cornyn’s statement as prepared --SENATE FLOOR STATEMENT STRENGTHENING THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT FRIDAY AUGUST 1, 2003 Mr. President, I rise today to say a few words about the importance of the Defense of Marriage Act. Recent and pending cases, before the Supreme Court and the state court of Massachusetts, raise serious questions regarding the future of the traditional definition of marriage throughout America as embodied in the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it is important that the Senate consider what steps are needed to safeguard the institution of marriage DOMA has protected since 1996. in very simple and easy to read language, the Defense of Marriage Act stated that a marriage is the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and that a spouse is a husband or wife of the opposite sex. That declaration did not break any new ground, or set any new precedent. It simply reaffirmed the traditional definition of marriage. the Defense of Marriage Act received overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses. The House passed the Act by a vote of 342-67, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 85-14. President Clinton signed the measure, stating that: “I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages, and this legislation is consistent with that position.” And since that time, 37 states have passed Defense of Marriage Acts at their own level, defining marriage for purposes of state law. As the eloquent senior Senator from West Virginia, a sponsor of the Act, said at the time: “Throughout the annals of human experience, in dozens of civilizations and cultures of varying value systems, humanity has discovered that the permanent relationship between men and women is a keystone to the stability, strength, and health of human society – a relationship worthy of legal recognition and judicial protection … "The suggestion that relationships between members of the same gender should ever be accorded the status or the designation of marriage flies in the face of the thousands of years of experience about the societal stability that traditional marriage has afforded human civilization.” Senator Byrd was echoing an understanding of marriage shared by the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote: “Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office … that joins you together.” Mr. President, marriage is so fundamental to our culture that it is easy to forget how much depends on it. Marriage provides the basis for the family, which remains the strongest and most important social unit. A wealth of social science research and data attest to this fact. and as columnist Maggie Gallagher writes, quote: “When men and women fail to form stable marriages, the first result is a vast expansion of government attempts to cope with the terrible social needs that result. There is scarcely a dollar that state and federal government spends on social programs that is not driven in large part by family fragmentation: crime, poverty, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, and mental and physical health problems.” Mr. President, clearly the family is the fundamental institution of our civilization. It fosters successful communities, happier homes, and healthier lives. The family provides the foundation for raising each generation of Americans. And when families are weakened, children suffer the most. we recognized these facts in 1996, by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, and reiterating the traditional understanding of what marriage is. Now, as decisions by our courts raise concerns once again, I believe that it is the duty of the Senate to reexamine this important issue. The great Sam Houston, whose seat I am honored to hold in this body, once said: “The time is fast arising when facts must be submitted in their simplest dress.” I believe that time is now. The facts deserve examination – and, if necessary, action. the question before us now is whether the popular and bipartisan legislation will remain the law of the land as the people intend, or be overturned by the courts. As many in this body have stated in the past, the Founders could not have anticipated that our nation would ever reach the point where marriage would ever require such definition. But neither could they have anticipated the method through which the courts would unilaterally upend our nation’s laws, reading penumbras, emanations, and “sweet mysteries of life” into the legal text as justification for overturning legislative acts. Mr. President, on an issue as fundamental as marriage, I believe it is the job of the American people, through their representatives, to decide. We should not abandon this issue to the purview of courts alone. Some have suggested a legislative answer, and others believe a constitutional amendment is needed. In any case, we must consider what steps are now needed to protect and safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage as defined in the Defense of Marriage Act. Toward that end, I will hold a hearing of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution in the first week after we return from the August recess to find out what steps, if any, are required to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and the Congressional intent embodied in that measure. I hope that my colleagues, including the bipartisan majority of this body who overwhelmingly supported DOMA in 1996, will join me in these efforts. Perhaps no legislative or constitutional response is required to reinforce the status quo. And if it is clear that no action is required, so be it. But I believe that we must take care to do whatever it takes to ensure that the principles defined in the Defense of Marriage Act remain the law of land.