Steps Back on Gay Marriage Amendment
Newscenter, July 16, 2003
Paul Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief
D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is backing off slightly from
his declared support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
June 29th, Frist told ABC television news that the would support the
now Frist has softened that stance saying that if Massachusetts’ highest
court legalizes gay marriage, “one alternative is a constitutional
change in attitude follows comments by President Bush. Bush said last week he
would not take a position until the Massachusetts Superior Court of Justice
couples are challenging the state’s ban on issuing marriage licenses to
same-sex couples. A decision is expected any day.
says that he still believes marriage should remain the “union between one
man and one woman—not two men or three men or four men, or one man or one
woman or two women and three women or three women and three men.” The go
softly approach has also been taken by Sen. George Allen, another member of
the Senate Republican leadership. The Virginia conservative declined this week
to endorse the constitutional amendment but said that he also wants to see
what the Massachusetts court decides, but added that the US Supreme Court
decision striking down sodomy laws has changed the complexion of the marriage
we analyze the ramifications of the recent Supreme Court decision [on privacy
rights for gays], we will consider a number of options to preserve the
traditional institution of marriage,” he said in response to an inquiry by
the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper.
has had a history of supporting anti-gay measures. Nine years ago , when he
was governor of Virginia, Allen was asked on a radio call-in show about a
state appellate court decision returning custody of a 2-year-old boy to his
gay relationships are “unnatural,” he said, emphasizing that it is “not
in the best interests of a child to be raised in that environment.” He also
said such relationships violated the state’s sodomy laws.
as governor, Allen backed a policy that denied state-supported housing loans
to gay couples.
the 2000 campaign for Senate, Allen contended incumbent Democrat Charles S.
Robb was soft on gays, and said that Robb favored gay marriage (a position
Robb had not taken). Allen said: “He votes like he’s from Vermont,”
alluding to the state that became first to recognize same-sex unions.
while two of the most senior GOP members of the Senate are stepping back from
the precipice, Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum is continuing the charge
full steam ahead.
said Tuesday that whatever the Massachusetts court decides the constitutional
amendment should go ahead. The very fact that it came to court at all, Satorum
said, is proof that the amendment is needed.
an interview published this week in GQ, Santorum unleashed another attack on
gays. After telling the interviewer he would be supportive if one of his
children came to him and said he was gay, Samtorum told the magazine: “You
try to point out to them what is the right thing to do. And we have many
temptations to do things we shouldn’t do. That doesn’t mean we have to
give in to those temptations. I have temptations, as we all do, all the time,
to do things we shouldn’t do.
we have that disposition because of environmental factors, genetic factors,
whatever, it doesn’t mean you have to submit. We are people of free will and
three members of Congress, two Democrats and one Republican, called on fellow
lawmakers to follow the advice of Vice President Dick Cheney during the 2000
election campaign and reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex
a letter to members of Congress, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy
Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) pointed out that, during the 2000
Vice-Presidential debate, Cheney publicly stated that the same-sex marriage
issue ought not to be decided by the federal government.
Responding to a question on gay marriage, Cheney said:
I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and
that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal
policy in this area.”
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