[[A R G U M E N T S]] * Religious conservatives, the most powerful bloc in the GOP (God’s Own Party), are hoping to pressure Republican leaders to make November’s midterm elections about “values”--outlawing abortion and banning same-sex marriage. Bumbling Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) has stepped right up to the challenge, announcing that he will resurrect an a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage this year (despite it’s having failed before in Congress, even with George W. Bush’s endorsement). And Arizona Senator John McCain, shamelessly sucking up to the evangelical right in a bid to follow Bush into the Oval Office, has now expressed a “willingness to support a Federal Marriage Amendment”--even though, just two years ago, he opposed that amendment, calling it “antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.”
However, John C. Danforth, an Episcopalian minister, former Republican senator from Missouri, and ex-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is quoted as saying that “perhaps at some point in history there was a constitutional amendment proposed that was ‘sillier than this one, but I don’t know of one.’” Danforth, who over the last couple of years has become a critic of religion’s invasion of politics, added during a recent speech to the Log Cabin Republicans (who support gay rights) that “Once before, the Constitution was amended to try to deal with matters of human behavior; that was Prohibition. That was such a flop that that was repealed 13 years later.”
Republicans, fearful that they’ll lose control of at least one chamber of Congress this year, hope that socially divisive legislation such as a same-sex marriage ban will energize their party’s disillusioned base. They’re planning to schedule a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment in June. For his part, though, Danforth believes that any political gain to be enjoyed from this exercise would not be offset by the harm it would do to the GOP’s reputation. “The basic concept of the Republican Party,” he says, “is to interpret the Constitution narrowly, not expansively, so that legislatures, and especially state legislatures, can work out over a period of time the social issues in our country.” Already, legislatures in Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, and elsewhere have dealt with domestic partnership, civil union, and same-sex marriage issues. And with polls showing a significant drop in opposition to same-sex unions over the last few years, this matter is likely to stay current--and continue to divide Republicans, as well as other Americans--for years to come.
READ MORE: “Mary Cheney ‘Comes Out’ in Vanity Fair” (Raw Story).