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Marriage foes attempt never before used tactic

Opponents to marriage equality and proponents for an amendment banning such within the Constitution of the United States of America are switching their focus and their tactics from pushing and prodding the Congress, to pushing and prodding the various states in the Union.

According to an article from The Washington Blade, gay marriage foes in the DC-based “Alliance for Marriage” say that they know getting anything through a Democratic-controlled Congress is impossible:

The group that spearheaded the push for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has reset its sights on state legislatures, conceding it has little chance for success in a Democrat-controlled Congress.

The Washington-based Alliance for Marriage will try to build a nationwide network of state lawmakers who would support such an amendment, the group?s leaders said in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, a day before they planned to unveil their new effort.

They said they consider it a temporary setback that the Democrats? triumph in the November midterm elections resulted in a congressional leadership unsympathetic to their cause. Ultimately, three-fourths of the state legislatures would have to approve a federal constitutional amendment.

“We believe the day is coming when the Marriage Protection Amendment will be sent to the states” said Bob Adams, vice president of the alliance.”The time to organize for that is now, not 10 years down the road.”

Matt Daniels, the group?s founder and president, acknowledged the results of the November elections forced the Alliance for Marriage to look beyond Washington for supporters.

“There is no question that the shift in the balance of power in Washington has, for the time-being, made it difficult to reintroduce the federal amendment in Congress” he said.

But, he noted, voters in several states approved ballot questions opposing gay marriage. Arizona was the only state where voters rejected such a measure.

He and Adams said their group is the only one working to organize state legislators.

More below the flip

The Constitution outlines two ways in which an amendment can be proposed. The first is through proposal in the Congress, in which the amendment must be approved by two-thirds of those Representatives in the House and two-thirds of those Senators in the Senate. If it passes both houses of Congress, the amendment then heads to the States, where it must be ratified by three-fourths of the total number.

The second process for proposal – the one which seems to be the route that the opponents are thinking about taking – allows a Constitutional amendment to be proposed from the bottom up… from the States. In this process, two-thirds of the State legislatures must call for a Constitutional Convention. At the Convention any amendment can be proposed and debated. If approved by the Convention, the amendment must then be approved by three-fourths of the States in the Union.

Honestly, it is hard to know if any federal marriage amendment would ever succeed. As of now, only 26 out of the 50 States have passed similar amendments to their State constitutions; that is only 52%, not the three-fourths which would be needed to pass it on a federal level.

Another concern is the constant preaching we’ve heard from many, many people that marriage should be a state concern only. If marriage is a state concern, then let the states deal with it… stop pushing it on a national level.

Another issue I take extreme concern with is using the Constitution of the United States, as well as the constitutions of our various States, to limit the rights and privileges of citizens. Throughout our history, Americans have progressively used our governing documents to extend rights and privileges. Only once has the Constitution been used to limit rights. During Prohibition, all hell broke loose and the rights-limiting Prohibition amendment was later repealed, of course through the tough amendment process.

Almost every time the amendment process has been initiated, it was used to extend rights or alter some minor operation of our government (term limits and the line of succession for example). From the abolition of slavery, the granting of African-American citizenship, the right to vote for both blacks and women and more… the Constitution is not a document which should be used to mirror the whims of public opinion in this era of Bush-controlled, radical Religious Right zealotry.

The Constitution is a document created to last and if it is going to continue to last another 200, 300, 500 or 1000 years, we cannot play with it every time some group gets the notion that something is “wrong” and should be banned. I thought that was a lesson we learned in the early part of the 20th century?

Marriage, or the lack thereof, in the States (credit: GoodAsYou) Click to enlarge

Like I said above, only 26 States have passed an amendment for their State constitutions. You’ll notice one big exception in what the Religious Right probably thought would be a hands-down victory: North Carolina. In the words of my friend Ed, the fact that North Carolina has held off an amendment for the past three years is nothing short of something to make the Religious Right go stark crazy. They look at the South and they see a big hole in their “Bible Belt” South.

Marriage equality, however, remains banned, by statute, in most of the States. Only New York, New Jersey and New Mexico do not have statutes banning equality. In 2006, Arizona defeated the anti-marriage amendment.

I doubt that the route that marriage opponents want to take will work. The process of going through the States to set up a Constitutional Convention has never been used and according to one source, the exact process of how we would even go about setting up such a Convention isn’t quite known.

Foes of equality for LGBT citizens should just sit down. More and more people are starting to see through their bigoted and prejudiced speech to see exactly what they want to do in America. Their movement isn’t about “protecting marriage,” it is about putting the government squarely in the bedroom and the private lives of private citizens. America is a nation where people are free to choose their own ways and paths for their own lives.

The government should not be able to tell citizens who they can and cannot enter into a contract with. That is all marriage is to the government anyway, a civil contract binding and combining two entities – and their property, wealth and other assets – as one entity. If you’d like to compare civil marriage – that which is issued by the government – to anything at all, it really is best to compare it to the merging of two companies or corporations.

In Lawrence v. Texas (2003), the Supreme Court of the United States firmly ruled that the government has no right to stick its nose into the private lives of private citizens. It is time for the anti-gay forces of the radical Religious Right to get the message.

Cross posted from Matt’s

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Matt Comer

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