Senate debates, Bush backs, anti-SSM amendment. Implications?

Bush has, to no one’s great surprise, announced his support for the anti-gay-marriage amendment now being debated in the Senate.,1,7688365.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

  1. Is W doing this for any reason other than shoring up his social-conservative support base in the runup to November?

  2. If he is doing it for that reason, will it work? How will this affect the Congressional elections?

  3. Any chance the amendment will be approved by Congress?

  4. Any chance it will be ratified by 3/4 of the states?

(In this thread, let’s avoid discussion of whether SSM should or should not be allowed – we’ve already had plenty of threads on that. Let’s stick to political implications and fallout.)

  1. Yes, it is an attempt to cater to the base that is transparent to even the most casual political observer. But I don’t think it makes any difference. The base expects to be catered to. That’s why they voted for him in the first place.

  2. Yes, it will work. It will give the players one more issue to bash each other over the head with…and in the end people will vote their ideology anyway. Therefore the effect on the election will be minimal.

  3. I think it will pass. Most moderate Republicans will vote for it, as well as conservative democrats and democrats from red states like Ben Nelson.

  4. I think it has a good chance at ratification for the same reasons. I can’t see it passing in Massachusetts or Vermont or California…but will 13 states vote it down? I doubt it.

  1. Yes, he’s doing it to give people something to talk about besides Iraq.

  2. It won’t affect the election one way or the other.

  3. Nope.

  4. Nope. Although most people don’t seem to be in favor of same sex marriage most don’t really want an amendment on the issue passed.


As to #2 – I think the theory is that it will affect elections by affecting turnout. People that ordinarily would not bother to vote in a mid-term will vote on this issue if it’s offered at state level.

While the OP didn’t ask, I will take this moment to register my extreme displeasure at the idea of shoehorning the federal Constitution into regulating a subject that should properly be left to the states.

Now, I expect that the rejoinder is that the adoption of an amendment at the federal level will prevent the federal courts from doing some shoehorning in the opposite direction – that is, finding that either the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause compels government recognition of same-sex marriage.

That is a pretty compelling argument, but the cure is as bad as the disease. Marriage simply should not be regulated by the federal government, in either direction.

But if some states allow SSM and others don’t, isn’t federal legislation necessary to settle the question of whether a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts will be recognized as a married couple for federal purposes (tax returns, etc.) – and that of whether they will still be recognized as married for state legal purposes if they should move to Kansas?

This is so naked an attempt to distract from Bush’s failings that I cannot believe that social conservatives don’t realize it. They may support an anti-gay amendment, but still be isulted by the gesture.

They’ve got to know they’re being played for saps.

Why would they care as long as they get something done that they agree with?

I would suspect that maybe 20 percent of the population has the interest and ability to discuss politics at the level we do here. The rest of them just tune out and vote they way they always have.

Why would it be offered at that state level? Most states already did that in previous elections.

But Congressional elections are state-level elections. Whether a given Congresscritter backs or opposes the amendment might affect November turnout in his/her district/state.

Because everyone knows there is NO chance this amendment will pass. This is a blatant attempt to curry favour with fundamentalists that will (thankfully) have no effect at all on the law of the land.

Of course. But I didn’t interpret that **Bricker **was saying that. Maybe he was, but I read it as directly offereing the issue, not indirectly like that.

  1. Yes, he likely believes this is a good thing to do. It is entirely reasonable to conclude, though, that given the timing and the crummy expectations of the GOP for the fall, this is basically an election ploy.

  2. It might tip a couple of very close elections, but overall it’s doubtful if it will have much impact.

  3. Current thinking is that it won’t get the necessary 67 votes in the Senate.

  4. I haven’t heard a complete state-by-state analysis, but I’d bet that if got out of Congress it would have a fair chance of being ratified by the states.

  1. Is W doing this for any reason other than shoring up his social-conservative support base in the runup to November?

Yes. The Republican Party desperately needs to get the national focus off the record of the Bush Administration and the corruption of Republican congressmen.

  1. If he is doing it for that reason, will it work? How will this affect the Congressional elections?

To some degree, but not as well as it appeared in 2004. You need to strike while the iron is hot, and this iron is inexorably cooling. For every 1000 octogenarian voters that die and every 1000 young voters that register, the support for discrimination against gays weakens by probably a few hundred voters. In 10 years, such an amendment would be unthinkable, and in 50 years, laughable.

There may be some increase in turnout among some anti-gay voters because of this, but my guess is that in districts where they would have significant impact, the Republican seat is probably already safe. This is pandering to the Bible Belt, long a lost cause for Democratic congressional candidates.

  1. Any chance the amendment will be approved by Congress?

I think there is a modest chance. Being an election year, some skittish Dems might not want to risk being labeled as a pro-gay congressman. But I only put the odds at maybe 25%. Most would prefer that this issue die before being voted on.

  1. Any chance it will be ratified by 3/4 of the states? If it passes Congress, yes. I can’t see 13 states voting it down.


I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference - I think, as Menocchio says, that they know this is just a sop to them and that it has no chance of happening. A number of states have already banned gay marriage by amendments to their own Constitutions, so even there, this issue won’t seem terribly pressing.

No. It sounds like it won’t get enough votes to even bring it to a vote in the Senate.

It was the very first thing he said.

If the wording is changed so that it allows - in the future - some out the civil unions may be recognized and might in some general way (so long as you don’t think too hard about it) grants gays equal protection, then I think it has a frighteningly good chance of passing.

Isn’t that what DOMA was for?

Yes. DOMA doesn’t forbid states from recognizing gay marriage, it just says they don’t have to, and that the federal government won’t.

Yes – but it’s just the kind of federal legislation Bricker apparently finds objectionable.

They DO realize it. Most of the big name moral-orels have been griping that it’s too little, too late, to half-hearted for them to care. Which begs the question of the purpose in the first place. it seems like all this will accomplish is:

  1. highlighting how impotent Bush has been to get anything passed anymore
  2. making social conservatives realize that all the excitement over Bush and Republican control of Congress was premature, and that Bush really HASN’T had their backs like they believed he would

Is there really a question here? From what I’ve gathered after pondering this aloud here myself, a suit would be DOA on Constitutional grounds, as, given well-established precedents narrowing the scope of certain clauses, there is absolutely nothing compelling any state or the Fed. Govt. to recognize same-sex marriages performed in MA. Not the Commerce Clause, not the Comity Clause, nothing. It’s simply a non-issue for states banning gay marriage, and it’s a non-issue for the IRS, etc.

Which makes this proposed amendment all the more egregious. It’s gratuitous pandering based upon hysterical slippery-slope arguments, and precisely because cooler heads know there’s nothing for those opposed to gay marriage to worry about outside of MA, it has no hope of passing the Senate. It’s pure political theater, and a particularly mean variety of theater at that.