May 28th, 2004--- 3rd District Congressional candidate Jeff Smith announced his opposition to the state constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage that will be on the August 3rd ballot. Smith, running to succeed Dick Gephardt, believes that all attempts to codify discrimination in the law, particularly the state constitution, are wrong and must be vigorously opposed.
"I vehemently oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage that will go before the voters on August 3rd. Any attempt to codify discrimination is wrong and must be fought," Smith said." "In a state where it is still legal to fire someone based on sexual orientation, we need to use the state constitution to expand rights, not constrict them. I plan on voting against this state constitutional amendment and urge the rest of the voters of the 3rd District to do the same."
Smith said that if the amendment passes it will reverse decades of progress in Missouri towards equality for gays and lesbians. Smith believes that if the state constitutional amendment passes it will open the door to all sorts of legalized discrimination based on the definition of marriage. "Already there are bills in the State House pending that would cut off state funding to institutions - like the University of Missouri- that include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. This wrongheaded and discriminatory state constitutional amendment opens to the door to regressive laws like this."
Smith said his campaign was gaining tremendous momentum, noting that his campaign had recently earned the endorsement of the Clayton Township Democratic Club, Jefferson Township Democratic Club, Change For Missouri, and Governor Howard Dean. In addition to his grassroots momentum Smith has raised over $250,000 since beginning fundraising seven months ago. Smith has more cash on hand after just seven months ($181,000) than all but one of his opponents, Russ Carnahan, who has been raising money for 15 months.
Smith's experience uniquely qualifies him to serve in a House of Representatives composed of 177 lawyers with an average age of 54. Smith, 30, has distinguished himself as an award-winning teacher of political science and public policy at Washington University and UM-St. Louis, as co-founder (with Susan Uchitelle and Sarah Smith) of The Confluence Academies, a group of acclaimed public charter schools in the City of St. Louis, and as a longtime youth basketball coach. Though this is his first run for office, Smith has been involved in several local and national Democratic campaigns, including a stint as Deputy Political Director for Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential campaign.