Thursday, May 18, 2006


Senate Panel Approves Amendment Prohibiting Gay Marriages

Once again, the Republicans are waving whatever flag might get them votes in November. This one is the ban on gay marriages. A Senate panel sent on to the full senate a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would ban gay marriage. It’s sure reassuring to know that the Senate is watching out for us.

But this, like abortion, flag burning, the brown hoardes about to descend on our lovely white country, is another piece of bait-and-switch advertising for the Republican Party. They are there to make sure their big donors (“owners” might be a better term?) get what they pay for: contracts, bucks, moolah.

The mainline Republican party members understand this. It’s the way the system works. The religious conservative wing, though, actually believes the party stands for fetuses and waving the flag, marital fidelity, carrying the Bible to the world. This is the weak point in the Republican strength.

But—the best line in the article comes from Orrin Hatch, at the end of the article: "I know some (polygamists) that are very sincere. ... Don't accuse me of wanting to have polygamy." Right. He doesn’t want to have polygamy, he just wants the votes of polygamists.

Senate panel OKs gay-marriage ban

By Andy Sullivan
Thursday, May 18, 2006; 2:55 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel advanced a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday as the committee chairman shouted "good riddance" to a Democrat who walked out of the tense session.

"If you want to leave, good riddance," The Senate Judiciary Chairman, Republican Arlen Specter, told Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold, who refused to participate because, he said, the meeting was not sufficiently open to the public.

"I've enjoyed your lecture too. See you later, Mr. Chairman," Feingold told the Pennsylvania senator before storming out of the private room where the meeting took place.

The testy exchange highlighted tensions over the proposal, which seeks to amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent states from recognizing same-sex marriages.

The measure passed 10-8 on a party-line vote. Specter said he voted for the amendment because he thought it should be taken up by the full Senate, even though he does not back it.

The gay-marriage ban is one of several hot-button social issues Republicans are raising to rally conservative voters ahead of November's congressional elections.

Because the measure seeks to change the Constitution, it must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds majority and then be approved by at least 38 states.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill in early June.

The bill's sponsor told reporters he does not expect it to pass the Senate but wanted to keep the issue in the public eye.

"If we quit bringing it up here and talking about it here, in effect we leave the decision-making process to the judicial side," Colorado Republican Sen. Wayne Allard said.

A similar effort failed in the Senate in 2004.

Gay marriage has been a hot topic since a Massachusetts court ruled in 2003 that the state legislature could not ban it, paving the way for America's first same-sex marriages in May the following year.

At least 13 states have passed amendments banning gay marriage while two -- Vermont and Connecticut -- have legalized civil unions. California, New Jersey, Maine, the District of Columbia and Hawaii each offer gay couples some legal rights as partners.

Legal challenges seeking permission for gays and lesbians to marry are pending in 10 states. Most recently, a Georgia state court struck down a state ban on Tuesday.

Just over half of all Americans oppose same-sex marriage, according to a March poll by the Pew Research center, down from 63 percent in February 2004.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee's top Democrat, said the gay marriage ban was a waste of time for a committee that needs to tackle a wide range of other pressing issues, from judicial nominations to oversight of the National Security Administration's domestic-spying program.

"I didn't realize marriages were so threatened. Nor did my wife of 44 years," Leahy said.

Leahy said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who supports the ban, has expressed support for polygamists in his home state of Utah.

"I never said that," Hatch responded. "I know some (polygamists) that are very sincere. ... Don't accuse me of wanting to have polygamy."
© 2006 Reuters

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