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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Find Tepid Response in Pews

Money quote:

Still, the opponents of gay marriage say they are puzzling over why such a volatile cultural issue is not spurring more rank-and-file conservative Christians to rise up in support of the amendment. They are especially frustrated, they say, because opinion polls show that a large majority of voters oppose gay marriage.

"Our side is basically asleep right now," Matt Daniels, founder of the Alliance for Marriage, which helped draft the proposed amendment, said in an interview last week.

The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said: "I don't see any traction. The calls aren't coming in and I am not sure why."

Some conservatives warn that the Christian leaders rallying behind the amendment may now face a loss of credibility. Their influence with evangelical believers is a subject of keen interest in Washington, in part because the Bush campaign has made ensuring their turnout at the polls a top priority.

"The danger from the beginning was that if you make your stand on the amendment and you don't win, then you may have undercut your position," said Richard Lessner, the executive director of the American Conservative Union and a former official of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative group. "They have staked so much on it, they have put all these eggs in one basket and now they are going to lose."

Gay rights groups argue that social conservatives in Washington overestimated the level of anxiety about gay marriage among their supporters. "Other issues are far more important to most Americans, including evangelicals — issues like the economy, jobs, health care, the war in Iraq," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.


Meanwhile the Massachusetts weddings continue and polls in Massachusetts show that opposition to gay marriage is going down.





Sunday, May 23, 2004

Latino Community Says “No” to Proposed Federal Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

LLEGÓ Press Release
Media Contact: Imelda Aguirre, (202) 408-5380, ext. 105

Latino Community Says “No” to Proposed Federal Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

Members of Congress and Latino Civil Rights Leaders Stand With National LGBT Organization to Oppose Discrimination

Washington, D.C., May 14, 2004 In an act of solidarity, three Latino members of Congress and the top leaders of the nation’s pre-eminent national Latino civil rights organizations stood together with LLEGÓ - the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual& Transgender Organization--at a press conference last Wednesday to denounce the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage throughout the United States as a union between a man and a woman. The announcement was the broadest and most visible opposition by the Latino community to date to the discriminatory and divisive amendment.

Reps. Charles A. Gonzalez of Texas, Xavier Becerra of California and Raul Grijalva of Arizona all delivered powerful messages.
"This is an abuse of the legislative process," said Rep. Gonzalez when referring to the proposed amendment and its inherent discrimination. "If the law does not protect you, it will not protect me."

Prominent Latino organizations sent their top representatives to the press conference to publicly declare their groups’ strong opposition of the proposed amendment. Speakers included:

Manuel Mirabal, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 major Hispanic national organizations seeking to help frame policy and promote public awareness of the major issues affecting Latinos at a national level;

Marisa Demeo, regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), an organization that promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through advocacy, community education and outreach, and the legal system;

Cecilia Muñoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a nonpartisan nonprofit organization established in 1968 to reduce poverty and discrimination, and to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans;

Gabriela Lemus, director of policy and legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The oldest Hispanic organization in the United States, LULAC was founded 75 years ago to assure a good education, a better job and civil rights protections for the Hispanic community; and

Karinné Hernandez, assistant director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), an organization representing the interests of 1.7 million Latino trade unionists throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

"It is not a question of being conservative or progressive," said Hernandez. "Discrimination does not belong in the Constitution. The United States is not a religious state--it is not a state in which our personal values should enter into the most important documents that govern the country."

Elba Cedeño, whose life partner was killed Sept. 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center, delivered an emotional speech. Cedeño is represented by LambdaLegal in an attempt to obtain fair compensation from the federal victims' compensation fund.

"If this amendment were to pass, the states would lose their ability to make things fairer, and to take care of people who need legal protection and help," said Cedeño. "People like me. That would be another tragedy. It would be so unfair. It must not happen."

To illustrate the long history of support for gay rights in the Latino community, a video tape was shown during the press conference of Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez addressing a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands during a 1987 march for gay and lesbian rights in Washington, D.C. Chavez declared, "Our movement has been supporting lesbian and gay rights for over 20 years. We supported lesbian and gay rights when it was just a crowd of 10 people."

"This show of solidarity," LLEGÓ Executive Director, Martín Ornelas-Quintero, said of the press conference, "will send a strong message declaring that Latinos will not stand by on the sidelines while an overt act of intolerance is being promoted. This amendment is designed to be a wedge in our communities for political purposes. The Latino community will not stand silent and allow LGBT Americans to be relegated to second class status for these or any other reasons."

The announcements took place one day before the latest in a series of congressional hearings on amending the U.S.Constitution in an attempt to permanently define marriage or the legal incidents thereof. President Bush has announced his support for this amendment.

According to a Feb. 24, 2004, Field Poll, 57 percent of Latinos in California--the state with the largest Latino population--oppose a federal constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.


LLEGÓ, the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization, is the only national organization devoted to representing Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities and advocating on behalf of their needs on an array of issues ranging from health to civil rights and social justice. Through a growing national network of organizations and coalitions, LLEGÓ develops solutions to social, health and political disparities which exist due to discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and which affect the lives and well-being of Latino LGBT people and their families. For more information about LLEGÓ, call 202-408-5380 or visit www.llego.org.