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    Councilmembers Baker, Lowenthal & Reyes-Uranga Want Council To Oppose Proposed U.S. Constitutional Amendment That Would Declare Marriage Is b/w Men & Women Only

    (May 28, 2004) -- Councilmembers Dan Baker, Bonnie Lowenthal and Tonia Reyes-Uranga are asking that the LB City Council put CA's fifth largest city on record in opposition to two federal bills which -- if passed by a 2/3 vote of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and ratified by legislatures of 3/4 of the states within seven years -- would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide that U.S. marriages "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman" and neither the U.S. constitution, any state constitution or any state or federal law shall be construed to require that marital status or its legal incidents be conferred on unmarried couples or groups. posts below the text of a draft resolution in opposition offered by Councilmembers Lowenthal, Baker and Reyes-Uranga. We also post the text of HJR 56 and SJR 26 (identical text) below.

    As of May 28, HJR 56 had 120 House co-sponsors including ELB Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-ELB-PV); SJR 26 has ten co-sponsors...but neither of CA's two U.S. Senators.

    In a joint memo agendizing the item for the June 1, 2004 Council meeting, Councilmembers Baker, Lowenthal and Reyes-Uranga write:

    As the most diverse large city in the United States, and one that honors that diversity by protecting the dignity of all of its people, we have a responsibility to oppose efforts to deprive any of our citizens the right to live freely.

    Traditionally, our Constitution has been amended to enumerate and expand the rights Americans enjoy. It would be a tragedy to undo this long history by amending our Constitution to limit the rights of a group of Americans, especially as we so recently celebrated the 50" Anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

    Two bills in Congress would change the U.S. Constitution in a way that would move our country away from the ideals established at our founding: that we may all live in a country dedicated to the proposition that all persons are created equal, with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Recommended Action

    Request the City Attorney to prepare a resolution opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J.Res.56 & S.J.Res.26)

    A draft resolution attached to the Councilmembers' agendizing memo states:


    WHEREAS, Long Beach is committed to fair and equitable treatment of all persons and has codified its commitment to non-discriminatory treatment of individuals with the enactment of Long Beach Municipal Code Chapter 2.72, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status, sex, gender, and sexual orientation; and

    WHEREAS, Long Beach is committed to protecting the dignity of all people and the encouragement of positive human relations among citizens, groups and institutions and to consider, promote and develop programs for the reduction of tension, conflict, or violence which may arise from intolerance, prejudice and discrimination based upon race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability through the Human Relations Commission; and

    WHEREAS, the City of Long Beach finds that any attempt to codify discrimination in the United States Constitution runs counter to the tradition of equality that we as a people hold dear, and

    WHEREAS, the United States Constitution serves as the basic contract that has united us as a people and governed the manner in which we live, and

    WHEREAS, both the United States Constitution and California Constitution clearly state that no person within its jurisdiction will be denied equal protection of the laws, and

    WHEREAS, over the course of our Nation’s history, the Constitution of the United States, has been amended to protect the rights of individuals and minority groups from the tyranny of political majorities; and

    WHEREAS, amendments to the Constitution of the United States have steadily expanded notions of full and equal citizenship and have secured civil rights for persons previously denied participation in civil society; and

    WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States and high state courts in Hawaii, Vermont and Massachusetts have held or intimated that bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional; and

    WHEREAS, in 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States, in unanimously declaring anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, recognized marriage as "one of the ‘basic civil rights of man fundamental to our very existence and survival"; and

    WHEREAS, in this same decision, the Supreme Court stated, "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men"; and

    WHEREAS, denying civil marriage for same-sex couples would deprive gay and lesbian families of the benefits, privileges, protections, and responsibilities provided to opposite- sex couples and their families; and

    WHEREAS, discriminatory marriage laws undermine the constitutional commitment of the United States and the State of California to equality, privacy, and justice for all citizens; and

    WHEREAS, the opportunity to publicly and legally commit to sharing one’s life with a person of one’s choice is one of the most central aspects of human experience; and

    WHEREAS, the denial of marriage to same-sex couples is denial of fundamental human rights;

    Now therefore be it RESOLVED: that the Long Beach City Council hereby urges our United States Senators and Representatives to reject and defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment now being proposed to the Constitution of the United States (H.J.Res.56 & S.J.Res.26) so we may all live in a country dedicated to the proposition that all persons are created equal with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; And be it FURTHER RESOLVED: that the City Council directs the City Clerk to fotward the above positions to our representatives in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

    The text of HJR 56 and SJR 26 is identical:

    108th CONGRESS

    1st Session


    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

    `Article --

      `SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.'.

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