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FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENTS (FMA) TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

President Bush's support
The FMA vote in the Senate: 2006-JUN-07
The FMA vote in the House fails: 2006-JUN-18

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Sponsored link.

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In this essay, and others, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage."
We use the term "SSM" rather than the more commonly used term "homosexual marriage" because many same-sex marriages and committed relationships are composed of one or more bisexuals.

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2006-JUN-03: President Bush promotes FMA:

President Bush promoted the FMA during his radio address. He said:

"Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society....."

"On Monday, I will meet with a coalition of community leaders, constitutional scholars, family and civic organizations and religious leaders. They're Republicans, Democrats and independents who've come together to support this amendment...."

"As this debate goes forward, we must remember that every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect and dignity. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another, and all people deserve to have their voices heard."

In anticipation of President Bush's statement, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said on Friday:

"Sadly, President Bush is playing election-year politics with this divisive issue. He is shamelessly using this ploy to energize his right-wing base. We should never rewrite the Constitution to enshrine intolerance."

David Buckel, Marriage Project director of Lambda Legal, a pro-homosexual advocacy group, said that the FMA would damage the lives of same-sex couples and families, who raise millions of children. He said:

"It would brand lesbian and gay men as legally inferior individuals. It would write into the supreme law of the land that this group of people are inferior and when it's the law, it's a message to everyone else in society that they have license to discriminate."

The Associated Press speculates that the bill will fail to get the 67 affirmative votes needed to pass; it might not even receive support from 50 of the 100 senators. Several Republicans oppose the FMA. As of JUN-03, only one Democrat -- Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- is known to support the bill. 1

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2006-JUN-05: President Bush repeats call for the FMA:

President Bush said:

"This national question requires a national solution. And on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States."

He referred to "activist judges" who have declared that state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional even though the public has strongly supported them. He said:

"These amendments and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage. The people have spoken."

Reactions were swift:

bulletSenate Minority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) commented that the purpose of the debate was:

"...to divide our society, to pit one against another....This is another one of the president's efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract and confuse America. It is this administration's way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day."

bulletTony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council said:

"This was an issue that was important enough to campaign on in the 2004 election cycle by Republicans in general, but it's not been important enough to act upon yet."

bulletPeter Sprigg, also of the Family Research Council said:

"We don't have an interest in re-electing a Republican Congress if they're not willing to fight for pro-family issues."

bulletRev. Robert Hardies, a Unitarian Universalist minister said:

"There isn't anyone here who is naive enough to believe that the introduction of this legislation now, in two consecutive election cycles, is anything but a politically motivated effort to win votes by demonizing a class of citizens."

bulletSen. Wayne Allard, (R-CO) said:

"Now is the time to send to the states a constitutional amendment that protects traditional marriage and prevents judges from rewriting our traditional marriage laws, [If Congress does not act,] the courts are going to make a decision for all of us."

bulletPatrick Guerriero, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group, wrote in a statement that President Bush's support for the FMA is:

"...offensive and unworthy of the office of the presidency....Wedge-issue politics may score short-term political points, but will end up eroding your ability as president to unite the American people behind winning the war in Iraq, enhancing border security, advancing immigration reform and controlling spending. Your call for civility and decency in this debate rings hollow because the effort to write discrimination into our Constitution is intolerant and uncivil."

bulletMatt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage -- a group opposed to marriage equity -- said:

"The future of marriage in America has become a race between these court cases and AFM's Marriage Protection Amendment. This a great nation, but we cannot go forward as a people if our laws do not send a positive message to [heterosexual] children about marriage, family and their own future." 2

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2006-JUN-05: The Senate votes on the FMA:

The Senate started to debate the Federal Marriage Amendment on Monday, JUNE-05. Most observers expected that it will obtain a slim majority support but fail to reach the required 67 positive votes necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.

The Senate vote on the same wording in 2004 was 50 in favor and 48 opposed. The vote in the House that year was 227 for and 186 against. Both were short of the two-thirds majority required for passage.

Ironically, the debate was half-way through on 2006-JUN-06, or 06/06/06. Dropping the "0's" we have "666" the number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation of the Christian Scriptures -- the number associated with the Anti-Christ.

A procedural vote was taken on a motion to cut off debate on the FMA and force a vote. It would have required 60 positive votes to pass. It failed with a 49 to 48 vote on JUN-07. The vote saw all but one Democratic senator voting against the measure, and all but seven Republican senators voting for it. This blocks the amendment from proceeding, and prevents an actual vote on the amendment itself from taking place. For the second time in two years, it is dead in the water.

According to CNN:

"The vote also fell short of the 51 that Republicans needed to claim a symbolic majority victory...After the vote, supporters of the amendment pledged to keep fighting, and maintained progress is being made." 3

Charles Kraufhammer of the Sunday Gazette-Mail in Charleston WV commented:

"The mainstream media joined Sen. Edward Kennedy in calling the entire debate a distraction from the nation's business and a wedge with which to divide Americans...."

"So why not have a federal constitutional amendment and smite the arrogant solons of Massachusetts, Nebraska and Georgia, and those yet to come, all at once?"

"Because it is an odd solution for a popular-sovereignty problem to take the gay marriage issue completely out of the hands of the people. Once the constitutional amendment is passed, should the current ethos about gay marriage change, no people in any state could ever permit gay marriage."

"The Marriage Protection Act actually ends up defeating the principle it sets out to uphold. The solution to judicial overreaching is to change the judiciary, not to undo every act of judicial arrogance with a policy-specific constitutional amendment."

"Where does it end? Yesterday it was school busing and abortion. Today it is flag-burning and gay marriage."

"It won't end until the Constitution becomes pockmarked with endless policy amendments."

"The Constitution was never intended to set social policy. Its purpose is to (a) establish the rules of governance and (b) secure for the individual citizen rights against the power of the state."

"It defaces the Constitution to turn it into a super-legislative policy document." 4

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2006-JUL-18: The House votes on the FMA:

The house voted 236 to 187 in favor of H.J.Res. 88. It did not pass, because the constitution requires a two-thirds majority before an amendment can pass to the states. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United said:

"The marriage amendment would have wedded religion and government, and we are delighted it failed to muster enough support in the House. This was an unwise attempt to enshrine in the Constitution one religious definition of marriage....This was nothing but political theatre. The amendment was already dead for this session, following the Senate’s action in June. Today’s vote was a transparent effort by the House leadership to give members running for reelection something to distract voters from unpleasant realities such as the war and energy costs." 5

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Deb Reichmann, "Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment," Associated Press, 2006-JUN-03, at: http://my.earthlink.net/
  2. "GOP renews fight against gay marriage. Bush calls for amendment, but critics see election-year diversion," CNN, 2006-JUN-05, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  3. "Senate procedural vote on same-sex marriage fails," CNN News, 2006-JUN-07, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  4. "It comes down to judges," Sunday Gazette-Mail, Charleston WV, 2006-JUN-11, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  5. "House defeats marriage amendment," Americans United news release, 2006-JUL-18.

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-MAY-25
Latest update: 2006-JUL-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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