Marriage Protection Act of 2004

Date: July 22, 2004
Location: Washington, DC

MARRIAGE PROTECTION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - July 22, 2004)

Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 734, I call up the bill (H.R. 3313) to amend title 28, United States Code, to limit Federal court jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Marriage Act, and ask for its immediate consideration.


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 3313, which would prevent federal courts from hearing cases related to provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued in other jurisdictions.

The Constitution-perhaps the greatest invention in history-has been the source of our freedom in this great country for more than two centuries. The framework of government it established has allowed our diverse people to live together, to balance our various interests, and to thrive. It has provided each citizen with broad, basic rights.

The judiciary was designed to be the one branch of the federal government that is not influenced or guided by political forces. This independent nature enables the judiciary to thoughtfully and objectively review laws enacted by the legislative branch to ensure that Federal law is in line with the Constitution. Throughout the development of our nation, this check has been vital to protecting the rights of minorities.

The legislation that we are considering today is a political measure that will threaten this precious system of checks and balances. Although the Constitution gives Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of the Federal judiciary and the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, I am certain that the founding fathers did not intend for Congress to use this power to change the jurisdiction of the courts over a political issue. This legislation will set a dangerous precedent that Congress can deny the judicial branch the right to review specific pieces of legislation simply because Congress is concerned that the judiciary will find the legislation unconstitutional. This is a clear misuse of Congressional authority and it is a misguided attempt to legislate on a controversial social issue.

In addition to undermining the authority of the judiciary, H.R. 3313 would deprive a minority population-gay men and women-of basic freedoms. This bill would limit their right to due process by barring individuals from challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. Congress should not limit an individual's ability to seek redress in the court system simply because some Members object to the sexual orientation of others.

And if that is not bad enough, H.R. 3313 would set a pattern that would cause unimaginable harm. Today its gay men and women, tomorrow laws dealing with any other area would be exempted for judicial review.

Altering the framework of our government and restricting access to the courts is not the appropriate way to resolve a divisive political issue. I urge my colleagues to vote against this legislation.