Center for American Progress

: Is the Federal Marriage Amendment Consistent
Past Event

Is the Federal Marriage Amendment Consistent

with Federalism and Democratic Values?

12:00 AM - 11:59 PM EDT

Is the Federal Marriage Amendment Consistent with Federalism and Democratic Values?

Featured Speakers:
Dale Carpenter, Associate Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School and author of the new Cato study, “The Federal Marriage Amendment: Unnecessary, Anti-Federalist, and Anti-Democratic
Louis Michael Seidman, John Carroll Research Professor of Law, Georgetown University School of Law
Mark Agrast, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Moderated by:
Neera Tanden, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Center for American Progress

On June 6th the Senate will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would declare that marriage is only between a man and a woman.  While the debate over the amendment generally focuses on arguments for or against legalizing same-sex marriage, many people fail to consider whether a constitutional amendment is the proper way to resolve the issue.  Whatever one’s view of same-sex marriage, the use of a constitutional amendment to address the issue raises a number of concerns.  Does the amendment encroach on federalism and on the states’ traditional role in defining marriage?  Is it un-democratic to use a constitutional amendment to silence debate?  Is an amendment the best way for society to address questions of this kind?

These larger issues transcend the specific issue of same-sex marriage and go to the core principles that define American democracy, issues that concern both conservatives and progressives, both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.  Join the Center for American Progress, the Cato Institute and our distinguished panel in a discussion of the importance of this vote, not only to the particular issue at hand, but to the very nature of our democratic system.


Event Transcript

Monday, June 5, 2006
Program: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Breakfast will be served at 9:30 AM
Admission is free.

Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Maps and Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center


Dale Carpenter is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, the First Amendment, sexual orientation and the law, and commercial law. Professor Carpenter is the Vance K. Opperman Research Scholar 2004-05 and is the Stanley V. Kinyon Teacher of Year 2003-04 at the University of Minnesota Law School. He also serves as an editor of Constitutional Commentary. Professor Carpenter received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review. He clerked for The Honorable Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1992 to 1993. Professor Carpenter is a frequent television, radio, and print commentator on constitutional law, the First Amendment, and sexual orientation and the law. He is the author of a new study from the Cato Institute, “The Federal Marriage Amendment: Unnecessary, Anti-Federalist, and Anti-Democratic.”

Louis Michael Seidman is John Carroll Research Professor of Law at Georgetown University School of Law. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1971, Professor Seidman served as a law clerk for J. Skelly Wright of the D.C. Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He then was a staff attorney with the D.C. Public Defender Service until joining the Law Center faculty in 1976. He teaches a variety of courses in the fields of constitutional and criminal law. He is co-author of a constitutional law casebook and the author of several articles concerning criminal justice and constitutional law. His most recent books are Our Unsettled Constitution: A New Defense of Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (Yale 2001) and Equal Protection of the Laws (Foundation 2002).

Mark Agrast is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he oversees programs related to civil and constitutional rights, the rule of law, and the history of American progressive thought. Before joining the Center, he spent over a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as Counsel and Legislative Director to Congressman William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts (1997-2003), and as a top aide to Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds (1992-97). From 1985-1991, he practiced international law with the Washington office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he received his B.A. summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in 1978, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar from 1978-81, and received his J.D. in 1985 from Yale Law School. He is a member of the Supreme Court Bar and is admitted to practice in Ohio and the District of Columbia. Mr. Agrast has been a leader in a number of professional and civic organizations, including the American Bar Association, in which he currently serves on the 37-member Board of Governors.

Neera Tanden is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining the Center, she was Legislative Director for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Neera also served in the White House under President Clinton as the senior policy advisor to the First Lady and associate director in the Domestic Policy Council. She graduated from UCLA and received her law degree from Yale Law School.


The Cato Institute, a non-profit public policy research foundation, seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government. The Institute is named for Cato’s Letters, a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.


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