Defending The Defense Of Marriage Act

In: All News   Posted 09/04/2003

WASHINGTON – Seven years ago this month, the Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The bill defined in simple terms that marriage for purposes of federal law is “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This policy of reaffirming and defending traditional marriage was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support of Congress (85-14 in the Senate, 342-76 in the House) and reflects the legislative or traditional will of all 50 states."Americans instinctively and laudably support two fundamental propositions: that every individual is worthy of respect, and that the traditional institution of marriage is worthy of protection,” Chairman Cornyn said at the hearing. “Recent and pending cases, however – both before the U.S. Supreme Court and in federal and state courts across the country – have raised serious questions regarding the future of the traditional definition of marriage, as embodied in DOMA. I believe that the Senate has a duty to ensure that, on an issue as fundamental as marriage, the American people, through their representatives, decide the issue.” Recent court decisions, however, have called into doubt the future of DOMA. Judicial activism, not democratic and legislative will, has imperiled the future of the widely supported bill. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on the Constitution, held a hearing Thursday on the importance of the Defense of Marriage Act and the principles it embodies, as well as the extent of the threat of judicial activism to the legislation. The hearing, entitled What is Needed to Defend the Bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act of 1996?, examined what legal action, if any, is needed to strengthen and protect DOMA. the traditional marriage policy underlying DOMA has been strongly reaffirmed in recent weeks by leaders in both parties, including the seven leading candidates for President in 2004—all of whom oppose same-sex marriage. Yet recent court decisions have opened the door to judicial challenges. As Patricia Logue of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said, “I think it is inevitable now” that courts will strike down DOMA and recognize same-sex marriage. And Will Harrell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said he “believes the [Lawrence] decision opens to challenges the Defense of Marriage Act.”"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 activist courts,” Cornyn said. “I recognize that this issue is not without controversy. But I believe we should not shirk from treating it with all the seriousness it is due. As representatives serving the people, we in this body should not abandon the definition of marriage to the purview of the courts. I believe it is our duty to carefully consider what steps are needed to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage, and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.” Sen. Cornyn chairs the subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights & Property Rights, and is the only former judge on the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Armed Services, Environment and Public Works, and Budget Committees. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.See below for biographies of the chairman’s witnesses- Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond, M.D., M.A. Pastor, Bethel AME Church, Boston, MA Pastor Ray Hammond was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. He completed his surgical residency at the New England Deaconess Hospital (Boston, MA) and joined the Emergency Medicine staff at the Cape Cod Hospital (Hyannis, MA). Pastor Hammond accepted the call to the preaching ministry in 1976 and completed his M.A. in the Study of Religion (Christian and Medical Ethics) at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1982. In 1988 he was called to be the founder and pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston. Pastor Hammond has a long history of involvement with youth and community activities. He is President of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders working to mobilize the Christian community around issues affecting black youth; Executive Director of Bethel's Youth Intervention Project; and a member of several church and community boards, Catholic Charities of Boston, Minuteman Council (Boston, MA) of the Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way Success by Six Leadership Council. = = = MAGGIE GALLAGHER President, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, New York, NY Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist with universal press syndicate and a leading voice in the new marriage movement ( She is the author three books. Her third book, The Case for Marriage, co-authored with University of Chicago Professor Linda Waite, was published by Harvard University Press in 1999. As a syndicated columnist, frequent media guest and an affiliate scholar at the Institute of American Values, Maggie Gallagher has emerged as a one of the most influential younger women's voices on marriage, family and social policy. A Yale graduate (class of '82), she lives with her husband and children in Westchester, N.Y. = = = Gregory S. Coleman weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP Former Solicitor General, State of Texas, Austin, TX Gregory S. Coleman is a partner in Weil Gotshal's Litigation Department and is national head of the Firm's Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice Group. Mr. Coleman is board certified in civil appellate law and has built a reputation as one of the preeminent appellate lawyers in Texas. He has represented clients before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, and Federal Circuits, the Texas Supreme Court, and the Texas courts of appeals. He has argued three cases to the United States Supreme Court, all successfully. He has made more appearances in recent years before the Texas Supreme Court than any other advocate. Mr. Coleman received his J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was managing editor of the law review and a member of the Chancellors honor society. He clerked for Edith Hollan Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for Clarence Thomas on the United States Supreme Court. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law and is presently an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on U.S. Supreme Court advocacy. = = = Michael P. Farris Board of Trustees (ex officio) Chairman & General Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association President and Professor of Government, Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, VA Michael Farris is the founding President of Patrick Henry College. He was named one of the most significant 100 "Faces of a Century" in education by Education Week newsmagazine. Mr. Farris is also a professor of Government at PHC, teaching constitutional law. He has argued constitutional cases in the United States Supreme Court, six of the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal, and in the appellate courts of twelve different states. He has been one of the leading social conservative activists on Capitol Hill for nearly twenty years. Farris received his Juris Doctorate and was an honors graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. He graduated magna cum laude from Western Washington University (formerly Western Washington State College) with a degree in political science. His high school textbook on constitutional law is in its fourth printing. Mr.Farris is also an ordained Baptist minister. = = = Dale Carpenter Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. Professor Carpenter teaches in the areas of constitutional law, sexual orientation and the law, and commercial law. He also serves on the