Congressional Democrats have removed anti-gay language from an appropriations bill, and President Bush is threatening to veto the measure if they don’t put it back.
The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act funds federal programs including the District of Columbia budget and lawmaker’s salaries.
The Act has long included wording that specifically excluded money from the measure being used for D.C.’s domestic partnership registries.
When Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y led the request to remove the provision at the beginning of the week, Bush threatened to veto claiming that the Act now violates federal law by providing money to register unmarried, cohabiting couples in the District, to enable them to qualify for benefits on the same basis as legally married couples.
But Democrats say the language is merely symbolic because the registry always has been operated using local funds.
“This is a misleading veto threat designed to parrot the talking points of the anti-gay special interests which control and finance the Republican Party,” Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jo Wyrick said in a statement. “President Bush would never threaten to withhold federal funds from California because it employs a domestic partnership registry. Yet, Republicans feel that the District of Columbia is their financial playground that they can use to bully local families at the pleasure of their anti-gay agenda. That is wrong.”
Serrano agreed with Wyrick.
“There are serious issues for the country to deal with, yet the president wants to focus on this,” Serranno said in a statement. “This was a redundant provision that bashes the District of Columbia. There are no federal funds directed at the domestic partners registry. It’s like putting out a statement that says that Jose Serrano is not a Republican. Yeah, we know that already. I took out this past provision because it is a bad statement that doesn’t bring people together, but tries to divide them instead.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese also slammed the veto threat.
“With his popularity at an all time low, this president has yet again dipped his cup into the well of anti-gay bigotry,” Solmonese said in a press release. “The anti-gay zeal of this Administration has reached a new low.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 29, 2007.