Senate to Vote on the Federal Ban Next Week

You know it’s an election year when…

Early next week, the Senate is set to vote on a federal constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Presumably it will also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships as well as block courts and state lawmakers from allowing marriage equality. Furthermore, it appears that it would invalidate the marriages of couples in Massachusetts as well the legal protections offered by civil unions performed in Vermont and Connecticut.

Today, President Bush announced he will hold a Rose Garden press conference the day before the Senate votes to urge Congress to enact the ban.

Meanwhile, First Lady Laura Bush is urging politicians not to use the proposed constitutional amendment as a campaign tool.
Bush told ''Fox News Sunday" that she thinks the American people want a debate on the issue. But, she said, ''I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously."

''It requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue, a lot of sensitivity," she said.
According to today’s press release from the Human Rights Campaign, President Bush was pressured to hold the press conference because the only people talking about the amendment are the First Lady and Mary Cheney.

The likelihood of the federal ban passing is slim to none. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds' approval (unlike amending Wisconsin's Constitution, which requires a simple majority), and in 2004 it didn’t even get half of the vote. But it looks like even if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist knows he can’t get the measure to pass, he's going to at least try to use it in his campaigning.

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At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got an email from HRC about this.
They're asking people to tell Bush "that discrimination has no place in the U.S. Constitution" by leaving a comment at the White House at (202) 456-1111.

We should all do this!

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

I posted a question a few weeks ago, but no one answered me! I have a question about the Federal ban vs the Wisconsin ban.

The Federal ban's 2nd sentence only says that no legal entity "shall be required to" recognize gay marriages. In other words, the power to make family law still rests with our elected representatives. So it essentially does nothing, except to make DOMA immune from a court challenge. YES to the power of Congress. NO to the power of the SCOTUS.

But the Wisconsin ban actually strips legal entities of the ability to make family law. NO to the power of our reps in Madison. YES to judges who are left to interpret exactly HOW to deny our families rights.

Am I correct in my reading of the Federal ban? If so, it would be quite possible for an entire group of voters to be IN FAVOR of the Federal ban since it keeps power away from judges, while being AGAINST the Wisconsin ban on the same grounds.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger David Schowengerdt said...

I'm not sure I fully understand your question, but the federal ban would make it so that NO state could allow same-sex marriage, whether by a court, elected officials or any other type of initiative. It would also not allow any court to require civil unions, but elected officials or the people could still allow them.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Ingrid Ankerson said...

Thanks David.

For more info on this you might also check out Wikipedia's entry on the FMA.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Todd said...


The first sentence of the FMA would without doubt ban marriage for all same-sex couples. There's no disagreement among lawyers about that. It would also un-marry all those Massachusetts couples who've already gotten married.

There are, however, a variety of legal opinions on the second sentence. Most that I've seen think it would ban all marriage and civil unions for gay couples and would probably take away existing civil unions in VT and CT.

Here's the ACLU's take.


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