Congress wastes time with same-sex marriage
The Senate has rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
AS it did two years ago, Congress is sending a reminder that this is an election year by taking up the absurd proposal to ban same-sex marriage. Even though the Senate rejected the proposal yesterday, the House is expected to vote on its own version later this summer, a futile effort aimed only at pandering to socially conservative voters in November.
Senators Inouye and Akaka joined most other Democrats and six Republicans in voting 49-48 against shutting off debate on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. The vote was predictably far short of the 60 votes needed to formally consider the issue and the two-thirds needed for approval.
President Bush endorsed the amendment, saying, "On an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States."
Profound importance? Voters who responded to a recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll asking their most important issue in the upcoming election listed the economy, Iraq, immigration, gas prices, terrorism and health care, in that order. Same-sex marriage garnered less than half of 1 percent.
Advocates of such a ban don't need to fret. Forty-five states, including Hawaii, have defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman, either through constitutional amendment or by statute. White House spokesman Tony Snow says the amendment is needed because of court rulings in Washington state, California, Maryland and New York
The people in those states ultimately will decide the issue, probably in the same way that Hawaii voters chose. After Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the state needed to provide a compelling reason why gay marriages should be forbidden, the next Legislature voted to outlaw homosexual marriages and nearly 70 percent of voters in 1998 agreed to affirm the ban.
Proponents of a U.S. constitutional ban of homosexual marriages warn that the sanctity of marriage is under attack. We are aware of no poll indicating that heterosexual couples fear that their marriages are put at risk by gay unions.
Pew Center polls have shown that 53 percent of Americans oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Only 29 percent think a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages is a good idea.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist cast his vote for such a amendment, hoping to gain support from those conservatives, while McCain, who has been pandering to the same bloc, bravely opposed it. Or perhaps he agrees with Bush pollster Matthew Dowd that the notion that votes in Congress on the issue are decisive in elections is "urban legend."