07 June 2006

Constitution protected from GOP gay-bashing amendment

Supporters lose in gay marriage ban vote

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, dealing an embarrassing defeat to President Bush and Republicans who hoped to use the measure to energize conservative voters on Election Day.

Supporters knew they wouldn't achieve the two-thirds vote needed to approve a constitutional amendment, but they had predicted a gain in votes over the last time the issue came up, in 2004. Instead, they lost one vote for the amendment in a procedural test tally that ended up 49-48...Supporters lost two key "yes" votes — one from Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who has changed his mind since 2004, and another from Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who did not vote this time because he was traveling with Bush.

...A majority of Americans define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, as the proposed amendment does, according to a poll out this week by ABC News. But an equal majority opposes amending the Constitution on this issue, the poll found.

...Democrats said the debate was a divisive political ploy.

"The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution," said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage in 2003. "A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

In response, Hatch fumed: "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"
I doubt it, Orrin. Certainly some of them are. (Little Ricky "Man on Dog" Santorum comes leaping to mind.) The rest I wouldn't give enough credit to have the courage of even that odious conviction. No, the majority, I'd say, were motivated by more practical concerns, namely maintaining their position in the GOP's rubber-stamp brigade. DiFi had it pretty well correct:
"Why is it when Republicans are all for reducing the federal government's impact on people's lives until it comes to these stinging litmus test issues, whether gay marriage or end of life they suddenly want the federal government to intervene?" asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "It makes no sense other than throwing red meat to a certain constituency."
For all the talk of "bigotry" being bandied about--and I'm as guilty as the next man--I've gotten to the point where I'm having serious doubts. The sort of hatred necessary to force second-class citizenry onto people whose actions have zero impact on you runs very deep, indeed. It's a core principle in how you approach your life and the world around it. At least, an honest-to-Jeezus bigot stands for something, no matter how reprehensible. The christianists being pandered to, THEY'RE the bigots. These GOPers (and our pols, in general) stand for their seats and precious little else.

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