As the Senate debates the Federal Marriage Amendment, supporters of the measure charge a number of lawmakers are afraid to vote according to their inclinations because they fear the homosexual lobby.
“Many of them are bobbing and weaving from day to day,” says James Dobson, whose new political lobby group, Focus Action, has taken on the proposed amendment as its first issue.
“A distressing number of U.S. senators and congressmen are being cowed by the homosexual lobby and are afraid to support the amendment,” Dobson said in a letter to supporters of the lobby group yesterday. “Indeed, many of them who ran as conservatives are running instead for the tall grass.”
Focus Action is registered as a separate, sister organization to Focus on the Family, allowing it to engage in direct political lobbying and campaigning.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has scheduled a cloture vote for today to prevent Democrats from filibustering. But Minority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., says the amendment’s supporters won’t get the 60 votes they need to force a final up or down vote.
Gary Bauer, a former GOP presidential candidate lobbying for the amendment, says there is only one way to interpret the outcome of the procedural vote: “Senators who support traditional marriage will vote for cloture. Senators who support homosexual ‘marriage’ will vote against cloture.”
Not all defenders of traditional marriage back the measure, however.
Dobson was a staunch supporter of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s stand to maintain a Ten Commandments monument at the state’s courthouse, but Moore has voiced his opposition to any amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Moore contends if marriage is constitutionally defined as between a man and a woman, a judge could allow a man to marry his sister or daughter.
He asserts a better solution is for Congress to pass his Constitution Restoration Act, designed to stop courts from forbidding the acknowledgement of God as the basis of law. He argues marriage between a man and a woman would be established because it is what God intended.
President Bush supports the Federal Marriage Amendment, but Sen. John Kerry and his running mate Sen. John Edwards are opposed. The Democratic candidates say they are against same-sex marriage but want to leave the matter to the states. Kerry’s spokesman said both would be present if a final vote came up but not for a procedural vote.
The proposed amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any state shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than of a man and a woman.”
To pass, the measure requires approval of two-thirds of the Senate – 67 votes – and two-thirds of the House, then three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures. But Dobson believes 64 senators are prepared to vote against it, which he calls an “outrage.”
He said he is encouraged, however, by several senators “on the fence” who called his group’s offices to communicate their support.
Bauer says “tens of thousands” of citizens have flooded the Capitol Hill switchboard and congressional offices with phone calls in favor of the amendment, virtually shutting down many senators’ communications systems.
But Dobson says some lawmakers have given “ridiculous excuses” for not backing the measure.
“Some of them claim they are unwilling to ‘tamper’ with the U.S. Constitution, as though it is somehow evil to change it,” he says. “Meanwhile, many of these same so-called ‘purists’ welcome ? and even encourage ? the tactics of activist judges who regularly amend the Constitution not by democratic means, but by independent judicial decree!”
He cites some examples:
- “Marriage should be reserved to relationships between a man and a woman. Only these pairings can produce children. But I do not believe an amendment to the Constitution of the United States is the appropriate answer at this time.” – Sen. Kent Conrad, D, N.D.
- “Changing the Constitution of the United States of America is a very serious business and should only be used as a last resort.” – Sen. Max Baucus, D, Mont.
- “I have a deep reverence for our Constitution, and believe it should be amended only when absolutely necessary.” – Sen. John Edwards, D, N.C.
- “Our Constitution has traditionally been used to expand rights, not to restrict rights, and I do not support amending it.” – Senator Carl Levin, D, Mich.
- “I believe that ‘marriage’ should be reserved to a woman and a man, based on the long tradition and religious context of the institution. But I see no need for a constitutional amendment.” – Sen. Bob Graham, D, Fla.
- Marriage between a man and a woman is an honored social and sacred institution that dates back thousands of years in civilization. It is for this reason that I am opposed to same sex marriages. However, I do not support amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same sex marriage at this time.” – Sen. Chuck Hagel, R, Neb.
- “Though I oppose gay marriage, I believe a constitutional amendment is neither appropriate nor necessary.” – Harry Reid, D, Nev.
Dobson says another “phony excuse” is that marriage is a state issue.
“Every legislator must surely know, however, that it would create chaos to have 50 different definitions of marriage in the United States,” Dobson wrote in his letter.
“Imagine the implications of having a couple married in Texas that learns after moving to Connecticut that they are not married in that state,” he continued. “Is this what our timorous representatives want? When you push them for an answer to that question, they change the subject.”
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