Traditional family defenders cast yesterday’s Senate defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman as only the beginning of a long battle.
Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson said, “Although we are disappointed by today’s outcome, we are not distressed or defeated.”
Dobson said the cloture vote, to prevent Democrats from filibustering, was “only the opening salvo in a long battle to preserve the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman – a battle we are determined to win.”
The Senate yesterday rejected a move by Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennesee to end debate and vote on the amendment. Republicans garnered 48 votes in favor of cloture, far short of the 60 needed.
The tally showed 50 senators opposed. Every Senate Republican voted to keep the amendment alive except for Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Ben Campbell of Colorado, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.
Sen. John Kerry and his running mate Sen. John Edwards did not vote.
(Editor’s note: The roll call, showing how each senator voted, is posted here.)
As WorldNetDaily reported, Dobson told his supporters before yesterday’s vote a “distressing number of U.S. senators and congressmen are being cowed by the homosexual lobby and are afraid to support the amendment. Indeed, many of them who ran as conservatives are running instead for the tall grass.”
‘Great cultural clash’
After the vote, Dobson compared the battle over marriage to the Civil War, saying “and like that great cultural clash, we are certain morality will prevail.”
“We will continue to fight for the vast majority of the American people, who are overwhelmingly in favor of protecting traditional marriage,” Dobson said. “Congress saw evidence of that this week when tens of thousands of FMA supporters tied up Capitol Hill phone lines for days. We will make it our mission to let voters know how their senators came down on this crucial issue; I am convinced they will ‘remember in November.'”
In his speech from the floor Tuesday defending his upcoming vote, however, McCain indicated the percentage of Americans in favor of the amendment had not reached a “supermajority,” or 67 percent.
“A federal marriage amendment to the Constitution will not be adopted by Congress this year, nor next year, nor anytime soon until a substantial majority of Americans are persuaded that such a consequential action is as vitally important and necessary as the proponents feel it is today,” McCain said.
However, an April poll of 1,000 Americans conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for the Alliance for Marriage showed 67 percent in favor of the amendment and 30 percent opposed. Among the supporters, 57 percent were strongly in favor and 10 percent somewhat in favor. A March poll by the New York Times showed 59 percent in favor.
Future given to unelected judges
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the vote yesterday “has left the future of marriage in the hands of unelected judges, at least for the time being.”
“This was just round one in the debate over marriage and now that it is over, we begin training for round two,” he said. “Pro-family forces have benefited from the debate over the past few days in two ways: One, every time this issue is forced into the public square, the opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ among the American public grows.”
The second benefit he said, was that “we now know which senators are for traditional marriage and which ones are not, and by November, so will voters in every state.”
“We’ve known from the beginning that this was going to be a long fight,” Perkins continued. “What we didn’t know was just how little regard senators on the left would have for the American people’s will on this issue.
He noted nine states are poised to have state constitutional amendments on their ballots this fall on marriage.
The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, a public interest law firm involved in numerous court defenses of traditional marriage, said, after the vote, it believes “same-sex marriage” is not inevitable.
“People should continue to fight this battle at both the federal and local levels,” the group said in a statement. … The battle is not over simply because this amendment did not succeed at this time.”
When given the opportunity, the group said, “people have voted to protect marriage by nearly two to one or more in nearly every state. They know that children deserve both a mom and a dad. In marriage, both men and women matter.”
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer yesterday applauded the efforts of Americans who participate in the process.
“While I am deeply disappointed by today’s vote in the Senate against traditional marriage, the good news is that the American people made their voices heard loud and clear in support of the amendment,” said Bauer, president of Virginia-based American Values. “Capitol Hill offices were deluged with calls, letters, faxes and emails.”
More than 3 million petitions in support of the FMA have been delivered to the Senate, according to Mat Staver, president and general counsel of the Florida-based public interest legal group Liberty Counsel.
Staver, who has been in Washington this week lobbying to pass the amendment, said as he visited the Senate offices, he heard the phone lines ringing constantly on the issue.
“The calls are overwhelmingly in support of the FMA,” he said.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., reported that in the two days before the vote she received 4,500 calls on the FMA, with only 150 against it.
Sen. George Allen, R-Va., received 2,100 calls, with only 150 against. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., received 1,500 calls, with fewer than 100 against.
“Even the senators opposed to the FMA are reporting that the majority of calls are in support of the FMA,” Staver said. “The calls came in such large numbers that the Senate voice mail system shut down earlier this week.”
Bauer said the “bad news” is that “dozens of senators played rhetorical games – saying they believed marriage was the union of one man and one woman, but then voted against the only meaningful way to safeguard that definition from robed radicals on our courts. The senators who voted against the amendment today simply chose to ignore the American people and they did so at their own peril.”
He emphasized, however, “this is just the first vote and the first vote only. There will be more and we will prevail. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, marriage must remain the union of one man and one woman.”
Dobson said he and others will continue to bring the issue back to Capitol Hill “until the voters’ will is heeded.”
“How marriage is defined must be a matter that the people – not tyrannical judges or rogue public officials – decide,” he said.
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.”
Amending the Constitution requires approval of two-thirds of the Senate – 67 votes – and two-thirds of the House, then three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.