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Lautenberg

The United States Constitution provides the framework for our
government and the foundation upon which our laws are based, and it is the
primary guarantor of individual freedoms. It is a document of critical
importance, and I believe it should be amended only in extremely rare
circumstances.

The Federal Marriage Amendment that has been introduced in
Congress provides that "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."

I believe that this proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution on
marriage is unwarranted. Current federal law, the Defense of Marriage
Act, P.L. 104-199, prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages
and allows individual States to recognize or refuse to recognize such
marriages performed in another State. Furthermore, proposed civil union
laws in several States, including New Jersey, provide significant
benefits, such as health and retirement benefits, to gays and lesbians in a
demonstrated, committed relationship.

Finally, with the exception of prohibition of alcohol -- which was
repealed -- this would be the first amendment to our Constitution that
expressly restricts individual rights. This would be a most
unfortunate shift in the heritage of our Constitution as a symbol of civil
liberties and the use of amendments to expand individual rights.

For these reasons, I do not support the initiative to pass a
Federal Marriage Amendment.

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