Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry, who says he opposes homosexual “marriage,” just two years ago signed a letter with other congressional colleagues urging the Massachusetts legislature to drop efforts to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual “nuptials.”
When Mr. Kerry opposed federal legislation in 1996 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, he compared the law to Jim Crow-era laws that criminalized interracial marriages and accused its supporters of the “politics of division.”
“This is an unconstitutional, unprecedented, unnecessary and mean-spirited bill,” Mr. Kerry said then, even as 85 senators and President Clinton supported the measure.
In 2002, he joined his Massachusetts congressional colleagues, all Democrats, in opposing the state’s bid to outlaw homosexual “marriage,” saying they feared it could be used to prevent communities “from acting as they might wish to provide some form of recognition for same-sex relationships.”
The letter, organized by Rep. Barney Frank, who is homosexual, was sent on congressional stationery on July 12, 2002, as the Massachusetts legislature first considered a constitutional amendment that limited marriage to “only the union of one man and one woman.”
“We believe it would be a grave error for Massachusetts to enshrine in our Constitution a provision which would have such a negative effect on so many of our fellow residents,” Mr. Kerry and 11 other members of the state’s congressional delegation wrote.
The legislature’s 2002 effort failed, but that debate was renewed in the last week after the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that homosexuals were entitled to the same “marriage” rights as heterosexuals. Lawmakers again debated amending the state’s constitution yesterday.
Mr. Frank and most of the other lawmakers who signed the 2002 letter sent a new letter last month, during the height of presidential campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, opposing the constitutional amendment, but this time neither Mr. Kerry nor Sen. Edward M. Kennedy signed it.
Mr. Frank said yesterday he didn’t ask Mr. Kerry or Mr. Kennedy to sign this time “because I was in such a hurry.”
The Kerry campaign said yesterday the senator consistently has opposed homosexual “marriage,” but rejects moves that he thought jeopardized the recognition of homosexual relationships.
“John Kerry’s position has been crystal clear. He opposed a proposed constitutional amendment in Massachusetts in the summer of 2002 because a sweeping proposal would have threatened civil unions, health benefits or inheritance rights for gay couples that represent equal protection under the law,” spokesman David Wade said.
“John Kerry favors civil unions, not gay marriage. It’s that simple,” he said.
In 1986, Mr. Kerry gave an impassioned 10-minute speech on the Senate floor against an earlier effort in Congress to define marriage only as a union between a man and a woman.