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Marriage amendment markup today – Feingold walks out

I received an email from Rachel Perrone of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office alerting that there will be action on the Marriage Protection Amendment (S.J. Res. 1: Sens. Allard, Sessions, Kyl, Hatch, Cornyn, Coburn, Brownback, and DeWine) today by Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

FYI – I’m told the Senate just announced that the first vote today will be called at 10am. The Senate Judiciary markup of the Federal Marriage Amendment is currently scheduled for immediately after the first vote is called. Note that votes do not always happen precisely on time.

The committee will meet in the Capitol President’s Room, which is right off the Senate floor. It is not accessible to the public and is very small. There are not even enough seats for the Senators to sit. I’m told there will be Senators who object to proceeding under this scenario. Unclear if Senator Specter will insist on the markup.

For sh*ts and giggles, they will also be discussing S.J. Res. 12, the Flag Desecration resolution (Sens. Hatch, Feinstein, Brownback, Coburn, Cornyn, DeWine, Graham, Grassley, Kyl, Sessions, Specter).

UPDATE: Russ Feingold walked out on the marriage amendment hearing and had a testy exchange with Arlen Specter, heh, heh, heh…(CNN):

A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him “good riddance.”

“I don’t need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

“If you want to leave, good riddance,” Specter finished.

“I’ve enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman,” replied Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who is considering a run for president in 2008. “See ya

Russ, you all know, showed his spine in April by publicly declaring his support for civil marriage equality.

UPDATE2: Russ Feingold’s statement on today’s fireworks.

“Today’s markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment.

Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.

The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor.”

Hat tip, PageOneQ.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding