House To Vote Thursday On Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban
Wed. September 29, 2004 12:00 AM by 365gay.com
The vote has little chance of passage, a fact acknowledged by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but it will force members of both parties to publicly state their position on the issue of gay marriage.
"The American people need to know where their representatives stand" on the issue just five weeks before Election Day, DeLay told a news conference. "It will be part of, and should be part of, the debate and the elections that are upcoming."
DeLay slammed what he called activist judges for "forcing" Congress to act "to protect the institution of marriage".
"We are forced to bring a constitutional amendment to the floor because of activist courts and activist judges," DeLay told reporters.
“If you do not have the votes, and you have admitted you don’t, then why would you be forcing this issue on the American people?" said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.
"The answer is simple; these folks are playing politics with our Constitution.”
DeLay said he is not concerned the measure will fail in the House adding that it is part of a long-term process of building a consensus that may take years.
Amending the Constitution is complex. A proposed amendment must pass the House and the Senate with a two-thirds vote in each chamber. It must then be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
The GOP sees same-sex marriage as a defining issue in November's election. It has electrified the party's conservative base, with political action groups mounting large campaigns to urge followers to call their congressmen and demand they vote for the ban.
But, it has also divided the party. Last month Vice President Dick Cheney, with his lesbian daughter in the audience, told a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa that the issue should be left up to states.
When the proposed amendment came up in the Senate it was defeated party due to disarray within the GOP.
President Bush supports the amendment. His opponent, Sen. John Kerry while opposing same-sex marriage, does not support a constitutional amendment. Kerry is on record supporting civil unions and legal protections for gay couples.
LGBT civil rights groups attacked the scheduled vote. Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Steven Fisher called it an example of the divisive "politics of distraction" being practiced by the GOP.
by Doreen Brandt
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