Gay City News surveyed New York’s two U.S. senators and House members representing the city and found no support for the constitutional amendment proposed this week by Pres. George W. Bush limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, though some representatives’ offices did not return calls as of press time.
Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both opponents of same-sex marriage, issued statements opposing the amendment. They say they support equal rights for gay couples, but not marriage.
Members of the House of Representatives gave stronger support for gay couples.
“In a world full of hate and war, why should anybody oppose the desire and decision of two people to live in a loving relationship?” Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) said. “I’m so angry with Bush. He’s on TV with that smirk on his face. He did not say anything about protecting people; he’s just bashing gays. Protect marriage? How about seeing that everybody gets a good education?”
Serrano was one of 67 House members who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn), also a supporter of same-sex marriage, said, “I don’t have a great sense of my colleagues on the amendment, but I don’t think it will pass. I take Bush to be insincere on this issue. It’s a good wedge issue. He’s getting desperate looking at the polls. I don’t even know if the Republican House leadership wants to do it. It’s worth more as an issue [to them] than doing it.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens) issued a statement saying, “This President wants to drag his election-year politics into our constitution––it’s no coincidence that this announcement comes a day after he kicked off his campaign. Instead of being a uniter, he’s clearly a divider, and this amendment is dividing this country. It should be rejected, and I will personally strongly oppose it.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn) said he believes the amendment “is a terrible idea; gay marriage should pose a threat to absolutely no one.”
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) represents Archie Bunker’s neighborhood, but his office said he opposes the amendment. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/Nassau) is also opposed as is Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Queens) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx-Westchester).
Velázquez said, “I support equal rights for all Americans, including extending the protections of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. True families come in all shapes and sizes, and it is not the role of the federal government to decide which kinds of committed relationships should be recognized and which ones should not be recognized.”
The other six members of the city’s delegation, which includes only one Republican––Vito Fossella of Staten Island––did not return calls from Gay City News as of press time.
Alan Van Capelle of the Empire State Pride Agenda said his group has begun to survey all members of the state delegation on the amendment, but would not release responses until the survey has been completed. Joe Tarver, a Pride Agenda spokesperson, volunteered that Rep. Sue Kelly, an upstate Republican from Katonah, had publicly come out against the amendment.
New York State Democratic Party Chair Denny Farrell, a Harlem state assemblymember, issued a statement saying, “Throughout our nation’s history the United States Constitution has protected and expanded the rights of American citizens, not limited them. It’s outrageous that the president would call for a constitutional amendment that undermines this nation’s guiding principles of equality and basic fairness for his own political gain. Without question, the president’s shameless use of attacks against gay and lesbian families as an election strategy will backfire on him this November.”
The state Democratic Party endorsed same-sex marriage rights in 2003.––Andy Humm