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Jul 02 2013

This should be interesting

Following the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), a member of the House of Representatives, has introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the decisions. The only positive feature of this bill is that it is very simple, consisting in its entirety of just two sentences:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

His bill has already garnered 28 Republican co-sponsors, the usual group of dead-enders though I was astonished that wild-eyed crazy person Michele Bachmann was not among them, not yet at least. Such people never realize when history has passed them by and their views will disappear only when they die.

The party leadership likely wishes fervently that the same-sex marriage issue will disappear soon because it is a loser for them and this proposed amendment will be a purely symbolic gesture that will only serve to keep the issue in the headlines. It also has the downside of further cementing the impression among young people that the Republican party is the party of anti-gay zealots.

This bill will put the Republican leadership in a bind. They will make every effort to prevent this coming to the floor for a vote but may be forced to do so to placate the angry religious nuts that they depend upon who will be outraged if they are prevented from even voting on an issue that is so dear to them. After all, the bill’s supporters can argue, the leadership has brought their futile efforts to repeal Obamacare to a vote an incredible 38 times, so it is not as if they are averse to symbolic gestures.

It will be fun to watch the leadership squirm and try and wriggle their way out of this. But they must also realize that their religious base has a single-minded determination that will be hard to thwart. And if it is brought to a vote and the entire Republican caucus does not vote yes, the dissenters will face their wrath.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    It also has the downside of further cementing the impression among young people that the Republican party is the party of anti-gay zealots

    A delightful lose/lose situation!

  2. 2
    Chiroptera

    … nor the constitution of any State….

    Holy shit! So no state will have the liberty of interpreting their own constitution on this matter, and, I assume, this will nullify any possible amendment to a state constitution requiring equality for LBGT.

    Yeah, the pro-federalism party strikes again!

  3. 3
    slc1

    Just for the record, a Constitutional Amendment introduced in the Congress requires a 2/3 vote in the House and Senate and the approval of 3/4 of the states, either by legislative approval or by the approval of a convention established to consider the matter. Such an amendment might of passed in the 1990s but it chances today are slim and none and slim is on the bus headed out of town.

    Of course, these clowns are well aware of this but are just pandering to their constituency, namely the born agains.

  4. 4
    Jockaira

    It wouldn’t matter if the entire Congress were to pass this bill, it couldn’t take effect because it nullifies or alters the authority of the Constitution. This country operates under the authority of the Constitution which can be changed only by an amendment approved by the legislatures of two thirds of the states (not Congress).
    .
    But notice the form of the bill’s language, simple, direct, and all-encompassing…just as is most of the language in the Constitution. It’s obvious the bill’s sponsors intend to get it passed in Congress and then to refer it to the states’ legislatures as a proposed amendment.
    .
    In the next decade or two that this really stupid idea will be preoccupying the time of our well-paid and benefitted legislative representatives in all levels of government (just like DOMA), many more important issues could be resolved improving our lives thereof. This is another decoy operation to fill the public’s heads with more nonsense so our glorious leaders can continue to chip away at our eroding standards of living and augment their own power, wealth, and comfort (speaking here about the oligarchy).
    .
    It’s scary to live in a world where virtually every decision on public policy is made by people manifesting the stupidities of self-serving greed and authoritarian theists.

  5. 5
    Scr... Archivist

    Does the proposed amendment have a time limit, like most amendment proposals have had recently?

    ———————-

    Jockaira @4,

    Actually, Congress passing a Constitutional amendment is part of the process, but only a part. As slc1 points out @3, the states then vote to ratify the amendment (or oppose it). You are probably right that the amendment would not be approved, but for a different reason than you suggest.

    Three-quarters of the states must approve an amendment. That would require 38 states. Currently, thirteen states have marriage equality. If all of those states voted against such an amendment, it would fail. But even if any of them flipped, it is unlikely that none of the “anti” states would also flip in the other direction. Marriage equality has majority support in 21 states. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States#Polls_in_2013

    Of course, state legislatures need not heed public opinion, but this might give you an idea of the obstacles. Furthermore, support for marriage equality keeps growing, so those states with marginal support for it will keep becoming more solidly in favor, and those below the 50% threshold will climb above it.

    And that’s not even considering legislators who really do believe in federalism and would oppose the amendment’s language on that principal.

  6. 6
    cottonnero

    After the abysmal understanding of the Constitution I’ve observed time and again from a particular subspecies of whackaloon, I’m almost impressed that they recognized what the next step in the process is. Don’t like a Supreme Court decision? Change the Constitution! It worked for Chisholm v Georgia (1793), and it can work for you too! (You know, if you can get sixty-odd senators and a few hundred representatives and thirty-odd states on your side.)

  7. 7
    eigenperson

    Fortunately, they’ve missed the window of time in which they could have gotten a 2/3 majority. At this point, they probably can’t even get a 1/2 majority in the Senate.

  8. 8
    slc1

    In the current Senate, as I understand it, there are some 46 Democrats and 3 Rethuglicans who have endorsed same sex marriage. The proponents of this amendment thus have nowhere near 2/3s of the Senate.

    By the way, the Legislature in New Jersey voted to approve same sex marriage, which legislation was vetoes by Governor Christi. In voting for a constitutional amendment, the governor has no say so New Jersey should also be counted as a state opposing such an amendment.

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