In a congressional election-year pitch to religious conservatives whose interests have been neglected in favor of far more pressing matters such as the war in Iraq, immigration, and the price of gasoline, President George W. Bush, in his weekly radio address, urged the Senate to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, asserting that it is needed to prevent what he refers to as "activist judges" from overturning state legislation against same-sex marriage.
The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages while leaving state legislatures free to make their own decisions about what — if any — legal accommodations, other than marriage, they will make for same-sex couples.
In order to become law, the proposed amendment needs two-thirds support in both the Senate and the House, after which it must be ratified by a minimum of 38 state legislatures.
In spite of the widespread belief that the amendment has the proverbial snowball's chance of passing — even the bill's sponsor, Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado), has acknowledged this political verisimilitude — the Senate nonetheless plans to debate the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage this week.
Democrats have said that the upcoming debate on this issue is a waste of Senate floor time, and is nothing more than a pre-midterm election appeal to social conservatives whose votes were essential to Mr. Bush's re-election.
The Unappreciated Religious Right
Apparently Mr. Bush and several Congressional Republicans are beginning to take heed of recent threats from the religious right, hard-working political activists who, according to Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families, "[are] a major reason why the president is sitting in the Oval Office today."
Mr. Bauer had issued an earlier warning that, if Mr. Bush doesn't start crusading against same-sex marriage, "this is just going to be one more thing that keeps people at home on Election Day."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has also cautioned Mr. Bush, telling Fox News that the president faces "the very real potential of deflating what's left of the GOP base. They deflated the fiscal conservatives, because of [the increases in] spending, and now they risk deflating the social conservatives by failing to act on our interests."
Enter The Moderates
While Mr. Bush and several socially conservative Republican Senators have pushed for the marriage amendment, a number of other Republican voices have dissented.
Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and John Sununu (R-New Hampshire), oppose the amendment, saying that marriage is a matter that is best left to the states. Several other Republican Senators are also against the measure. Meanwhile, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only Democrat who has said that he will vote for the amendment.