NGLTF Condemns Federal Anti-Marriage Legislation

May 08, 1996

Paras denounces manipulation of this 'wedge issue'

Introduction of federal anti-marriage legislation today drew sharp condemnation from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The legislation, H.R. 3396, sponsored by Representative Bob Barr (R - GA) would, for the first time, create a federal definition of marriage. According to this federal definition, marriage would only include heterosexual couples. The Federal government would not recognize legally married same-gender couples. Currently, civil same-gender marriage is not permitted anywhere in the United States. This federal legislation, like the over 30 anti-marriage measures introduced at the state level, is in anticipation of an upcoming Hawaii court decision that could legalize same-gender marriage in that state.

Representative Barr's action follows a year of action by the extremist Right that has moved the issue of same-gender marriage to the top of its agenda.

Following is the statement of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the nation's oldest gay and lesbian civil rights organization. The statement is attributable to Melinda Paras, NGLTF executive director:

"This bill, titled 'The Defense of Marriage Act' would result in unprecedented legal discrimination against lesbian and gay couples and would short-circuit the very important debate in our country about family issues.

"The extreme Right, armed with anti-marriage legislation, continues to attack gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. While NGLTF is not surprised by this proposed legislation by Representative Barr, we are distressed that the Halls of Congress are being used once again to promote the agenda of a small band of narrow-minded extremists in this country.

"Since the beginning of the election season it has been clear that the issue of same-gender marriage would be used as a wedge issue between fair-minded Americans and those who promote hatred and intolerance in this country.

"It is also clear that groups such as Concerned Women of America, Focus on the Family, and the Report have developed a very clear plan to pass model resolutions against same-gender marriage in each state that have culminated in this effort today. While they would have us believe that they seek to "preserve legalized, traditional marriage, " the truth is that they seek to impose their own narrow agenda on every American by playing on people's real fears and concerns about the changing American family.

"NGLTF intends to continue our work to recognize and strengthen our families and to move forward the dialogue about equal marriage rights for all Americans.

"We urge members of our community to continue their hard work to turn back same-gender marriage bans at the state and now, the federal level. We call on members of Congress to turn away from this issue and to focus on the real issues and problems that face all of us."


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.