FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 26, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, February 26, 2004) — Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights today denounced Senator John Kerry's statement that he supports amending the Massachusetts Constitution to prohibit marriage rights, but would permit for civil unions. Such an amendment would overturn the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which held that lesbian and gay couples must be allowed to marry. The amendment would instead create a separate and unequal institution for gay and lesbian couples and would enshrine this discrimination in the Massachusetts Constitution.
Equality California Executive Director Geoffrey Kors issued The following statement:
"Senator Kerry's willingness to support an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to discriminate against loving, committed gay and lesbian couples and their children is extremely disappointing. He then added insult to injury when he asserted that civil unions will provide these couples equal protection when the truth of the matter is that couples in civil unions are denied the more than 1000 federal rights and protections married couples receive and that once a couple in a civil union or domestic partnership crosses state lines, they are legal strangers with no rights whatsoever. Senator Kerry is either grossly misinformed on the issue or deliberately misleading the public. With the California primary just days away, and LGBT individuals making up more than 10% of democratic party primary voters, we invite Senator Kerry and all of the candidates to meet with us and some of thousands of the same-sex couples recently married in San Francisco so they can learn firsthand from married couples how civil unions are not equal to marriage and the harm that denial of equal marriage rights causes lesbian and gay couples and their families.
While Equality California appreciates Senator Kerry for opposing the Federal Marriage Discrimination Amendment, his support of amending the Massachusetts Constitution for the explicit purpose of discriminating against lesbian and gay families risks confusing the issue at a time when opposition to the Federal Marriage Discrimination Amendment was growing. With court cases in San Francisco and Los Angeles challenging California's discriminatory marriage law, it has been rumored that California could face a State Constitutional Amendment ballot measure on this issue in the next two years. Senator Kerry's support of a State Constitutional Amendment in Massachusetts will make our effort to stop such a measure in California more difficult."
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement:
"It is an incredible disappointment that Senator Kerry would betray his gay and lesbian constituents in Massachusetts and join the bandwagon robbing them of fundamental equality under the Massachusetts State Constitution.
In the wake of President Bush's endorsement of a Federal Constitutional Amendment to prohibit lesbian and gay couples from marriage, Senator Kerry had the opportunity to assume the moral high ground in favor of full equality. He failed that challenge and, in so doing, gave tacit support to the Bush Administration's position."
Equality California Founded in 1998, Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the dignity, safety, equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. Equality California is one of the largest and fastest growing statewide LGBT organizations in the country. We can be contacted through our website at www.eqca.org.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.