liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

  • Mood:

Quickie from Work: Federal Amendment on Gay Marriage...Hello political football!

I'm so furious right now.

My fault, really. Just because we have same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and (to no doubt certain parties' everlasting shock) the world continues to spin on its axis, doesn't mean things are happy, happy on the civil rights front.

*smacks state governor Romney in the mouth*

It appears a bunch of Christian conservatives have decided to make same-sex marriage an election year issue because things are going so *swimmingly* well in Iraq. There will be a vote on this hideous monster today.

Since I haven't seen anything on this in LJ land, I thought I'd throw it out there.

Senate Braces Itself for Fight on Gay Marriage

July 9, 2004

WASHINGTON, July 8 - Admitting upfront that they do not
expect to win, conservatives are preparing to plunge the
Senate into an election-year fight over a Constitutional
amendment to ban gay marriage.

More precisely, conservatives say, they do not expect to
triumph in the Senate, whether the main showdown comes on a
procedural issue or on the amendment itself. But they say
they expect to get one thing they very much want: a vote
that puts every member of the Senate on record on an issue
that both Republicans and Democrats see as a political

With the Senate set to begin debate on Friday, Dr. James C.
Dobson, a popular conservative Christian self-help author
and broadcaster, devoted two episodes of his radio program
this week to urging listeners to call their senators and
reciting the names of 69 senators who had not yet agreed to
support the amendment.

"We may not have the votes to win it," Dr. Dobson said in
the broadcast. "I am afraid we don't, and our listeners
need to let their senators know right now that they are
watching, that they are paying attention and they will
remember the vote that occurs this week on this critical

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a
conservative Christian lobbying group, said, "Social
conservatives are looking at this issue so we know who
needs to be educated on this issue or removed if that is

From the other side of the divide, Ron Schlittler,
executive director of the group Parents, Families and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays, offered this view of the
conservatives' yearlong campaign to bring the proposed
amendment to a vote: "People's lives and families are being
used as political fodder here."

Senator Wayne Allard, Republican of Colorado and the Senate
author of the proposal, and other supporters of it believe
the amendment is necessary in response to court decisions
recognizing same-sex marriages despite a federal law
defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Mr. Allard
and others said the most likely scenario would be a vote,
by the middle of next week, to cut off debate on the issue,
which requires 60 votes. Should supporters not reach that
level, the proposal would be dead for the year. The
amendment itself would need 67 votes to pass.

Though Mr. Allard said he believed he still had a chance of
success, many conservative backers of the amendment are
resigned to defeat. Some are urging President Bush, a
strong supporter of the amendment, to take up the subject
more enthusiastically to distract voters from reports of
bad news in Iraq.

"The president has bet the farm on Iraq," Paul Weyrich, a
veteran Christian conservative organizer, warned in a
recent e-mail newsletter. "Given what the continued killing
has done to the president's standing in the polls this far,
it is a lead-pipe cinch that as we lead up to the first
days of November 2004, violence is going to be horrific."

Mr. Weyrich's solution said his solution was to "change the
subject" to the Federal Marriage Amendment.

"Ninety-nine percent of the president's base will unite
behind him if he pushed the amendment,'' he said. "It will
cause Mr. Kerry no end of problems."

As for the gay Republicans whose votes Mr. Bush might then
lose, Mr. Weyrich wrote, "Good riddance."

Senators John Kerry and John Edwards both oppose the
proposed amendment, saying that while they do not support
same-sex marriage, the issue should be left to individual
states to decide.

Spokesmen for Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards said they did not
know whether the candidates would be in Washington for the
debate and votes next week.

"We're not going to do our travel schedule based on
political gamesmanship on the Senate floor,'' Stephanie
Cutter, the Kerry campaign's communications director, said.

Ms. Cutter noted that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards have said
they support gay rights, oppose gay marriage and oppose the

"You don't amend the Constitution to roll back rights," she

Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards are getting some pressure to
attend the Senate session from opponents of the amendment,
who want to defeat it by the widest possible margin.

"The larger the margin, the stronger the message that the
politics of discrimination will not work," said Steven
Fisher, communications director for the Human Rights

Even Republicans acknowledged that a failure by the two to
vote on the measure would do little harm among gays who are
incensed at the Republican-led drive for the amendment.

The political implications for the debate in Congressional
races became clear on Thursday. John Thune, a former House
member challenging the Senate Democratic leader, Tom
Daschle, in South Dakota, traveled across the state to
express his support of the amendment. Mr. Thune's aides
said he would broadcast his first radio advertisement of
the campaign on Friday focusing on that subject.

"Tom Daschle ought to be terrified of this issue," said
Dick Wadhams, Mr. Thune's campaign manager.

In a statement, Mr. Daschle said that the existing federal
law had not been tested and predicted that it would be

"The regulation of marriage has long been under the purview
of the states,'' he said, "and I believe that is where it
should remain."

After earlier suggesting that they might not consider the
amendment this year, House Republican leaders indicated
earlier this week that they might schedule a vote for this

A group of other conservative Christian groups plans to
present the Senate on Friday with 1.4 million signatures on
a petition in opposition to gay marriage. On Sunday,
several prominent conservative Christians, including Dr.
Dobson, the former Watergate figure Charles W. Colson and
Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, will
conduct their second emergency telecast to churches and
Christian radio and television stations around the country.
Many of the same people and groups are sponsoring a rally
in Washington scheduled for Oct. 15, just in time for the

Other conservatives argue that, despite the likely fate of
the federal amendment, the attention to the issue has
jump-started efforts to put measures opposing same-sex
marriage on ballots in nine states where the proposals will
have the added benefit of helping motivate social
conservatives to vote. But not all conservatives are sure
that the issue is a proven winner.

"There is a group of people who don't care one way or the
other but if they hear you talking too much about either
side of certain issues - guns, abortion, same-sex marriage
- they think you are a little obsessive," said Grover G.
Norquist, a strategist close to the White House. "The first
person to say 'gay' in the debate loses. Because you
brought it up."

Jodi Wilgoren contributed reporting from Fort Lauderdale,
Fla., for this article.

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