Currently in the national spotlight, a proposed Federal Marriage Amendment seeks to change the United States Constitution and define marriage as strictly between one man and one woman. It would supersede all state domestic partnership laws and nullify civil rights protections based on marital status.
During its final meeting before the winter break, SG passed a resolution, authored by SpectrUM Senator Daniel Alvarez, to oppose the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. The resolution reads, “The University of Miami Undergraduate Student Government constitutional rights of individuals and fully supports equal Senate strongly objects to the proposed federal amendment that will deny the treatment, under the law, for all citizens.”
The resolution as proposed was titled, “A Resolution to Support Equal Rights for all Citizens of the United States of America.” However, the title was changed to “A Resolution to Oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment” in order to reflect specifically the opposition to the amendment instead of explicit support of gay marriages.
“From the get-go it wasn’t about gay marriage. [The resolution] is about being equal, about human rights,” Alvarez said.
However, some believe that it was not under the jurisdiction of SG to make a decision on what might be considered a personal or value-based choice.
“Whether I’m for or against the amendment, I don’t think this is under Student Government’s jurisdiction,” Phillip Matar, senior, said. “They are saying this is representing the student body, but the way to do that is to ask the students.”
According to the minutes of the Dec. 3 meeting, the senators themselves acknowledged this argument.
Arts and Sciences Senator Mike Levine argued that the senators “have no basis to vote on this without having first spoken to [their] constituencies.”
Senator Jeffrey Miller, representing the School of Business, said, “We are not elected based on our political views, so we cannot represent the student body politically.”
Despite a motion to postpone the voting on the resolution, the resolution was brought to the table and passed – 23 senators in favor, four against and seven abstaining.
According to Carlos Echeverri, the passing of the resolution was not illegal in any way. It complied with the SG constitution and bylaws and was within SG privileges.
“[The senators] are still elected officials in a democratic process. [Students] are electing people they trust to make these decisions for them,” Echeverri said. “It is our duty to represent the students.”
The resolution is now being forwarded to Dr. Pat Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, who, according to Echeverri, has final word on all legislation.
Student Government is requesting that it be expedited to state representatives. According to Alvarez, SG hopes to eventually send the resolution to President Bush, who supports the Federal Marriage Amendment.
“We want to show him that the next generation doesn’t necessarily agree with this amendment,” Alvarez said.
If sent outside of the University, the resolution would not represent the official opinion of UM; it would, however, represent the opinion of UM students.
“Was it necessary?” Echeverri said. “No. Was it appropriate? Yes.”
The minutes from the said meeting have yet to be approved by Senate. The Miami Hurricane will keep readers informed as more details become available.
Megha Garg can be contacted at UM_News2004@yahoo.com