JULY 2, 2004
www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE
I news cover story
Black clergy face off in competing news conferences
FMA, continued from Page 1
Allen has long opposed marriage rights
for gay couples. But he did not initially
join GOP colleagues sponsoring the FMA
and earlier this year said that the Defense
of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, was sufficient in protecting marriage.
Some say that Allen, who was undecided on the amendment for months, was likely feeling pressure from conservative colleagues and lobby groups for casting a
favorable vote in June to add "sexual orientation" as a protected category to the
federal hate crime law.
"We met with him and urged him not to
let that political heat push him into a position where he felt he had to support some
version of this amendment, but I think that
is the reason why he supported it," said
David Lampo, president of the Virginia Log
Cabin Republicans, a gay partisan group.
GOP leaders in Congress have indicated
they will schedule a vote on the FMA
sometime during the week of July 12.
Sen. John Warner (R), the other senator
from Virginia, remains undecided about
In Maryland, Democratic Sen. Barbara
A. Mikulksi, who has a generally pro-gay
voting record, has not issued a position on
the Federal Marriage Amendment, and
her office did not respond to repeated
Blade inquiries on the subject.
A spokesperson for the state's other
Senate Democrat, Paul S. Sarbanes, said
the senator will oppose the FMA.
Equality Maryland, a gay rights group, is
asking its members to contact Mikulski and
Sarbanes to urge them to oppose the FMA.
Combating Judicial supremacy'
Last week, the House Subcommittee on
the Constitution heard from two social conservatives who have long opposed gay rights.
Phyllis Schafly, president of the Eagle
Forum, testified in support of the FMA along
with former Rep. Bill Dannemeyer (R-Calif.).
The Human Rights Campaign, the
nation's largest gay rights group, noted
that Schafly once said gays should not
work in the food-handling business and
that Dannemeyer once compared the gay
rights movement to Nazi Germany
"Featuring testimony by two long-time
opponents of equality proves the argument that this is about discrimination,"
said Cheryl Jacques, president of the
Human Rights Campaign.
Dueling news conferences
Last week, the National Coalition of
African-American Ministers held a news
conference on Capitol Hill to voice its support for the FMA. Meanwhile, another news
conference, sponsored by HRC and the
National Black Justice Coalition, was also
held on Capitol Hill and featured black clergy supportive of gay and lesbian equality.
Jasmine Cannick, media director of the
'My opinion is that I don't care one way or the other,'
said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, responding to a question about his position on gay marriage.
National Black Justice Coalition, said that
social conservatives and evangelical
Christians are pressuring African-
American churches to support the FMA.
'Some ministers are really thinking that
if we get this right, black gay people are
going to rush to their churches and demand
marriage." she said. "Well, that is not true."
One-third of Americans
unaware of FMA: poll
In a nationwide survey conducted by
the Barna Group, an independent cultural
analysis group in California, one-third of
all adults are not even aware of the FMA.
The survey of 1,618 adults shows that 37
percent were unaware of the FMA.
Eighty-three percent of evangelicals, 58
percent of conservatives, 56 percent of
Republicans, 49 percent of Protestants and
47 percent of non-evangelical born-again
Christians favor the amendment.
However, 55 percent of self-described liberals, 51 percent of atheists and agnostics
and 43 percent of college graduates oppi se it
George Barna, who conducted the survey said that based on his findings, many
born-again Christians do not want to codify their definition of marriage into law.
Romney criticized over FMA
In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is being
criticized by some constituents who say
the first-term Republican governor is
focusing too heavily on national polities
and not enough on Massachusetts issues.
Romney was in Washington last week to
testify in support of the FMA.
Last week, as the California State
Assembly voted 42-27 on a resolution
opposing the FMA, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger (R) said he doesn't care if
gay couples wish to wed.
"My opinion is that I don't care one way
or the other," Schwarzenegger said in
response to a question by a gay constituent
at a restaurant last week.
California Senate President John Burton
(D-San Francisco) told the Associated Press
the governor's positions were sound.
Because in the beginning,
they only had one choice.
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