Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Constitutional Bans on Gay Marriage or Abortion? Don't Hold Your Breath

I've added a new blog, one that's run by Treva and that you can find at: Treva isn't ready yet to sign up to back Sarah Palin, but her blog is very good, and I urge you to visit. Treva and I may disagree on this-or-that, but she shows a great instinct for practical politics and understands that it's a lot more fun to win than to lose. Triva also has many pictures of her strikingly attractive children, whom she homeschools (and introduces to her favorite candidate, Mike Huckabee.)

In this column, I'm going to discuss my distaste for "conservative" (or supposedly conservative) candidates who talk about "constitutional amendments" defining marriage or "outlawing" abortion. There's a better chance of us cashing in on the million dollar offers we get from spammers in Nigeria (why is it always Nigeria?) than for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay unions or abortion. It is not going to happen!

I believe there are several politicians -- Larry Craig and Mark Foley, you many cover your ears -- who claim to be "pro-life" or "pro-traditional-marriage" who are actually neither. You can find them by determining how quick they are to support constitutional amendments that have zero chance of passing. Such people feel that evangelical Protestants and traditional Catholics are easily deceived -- making us convenient targets for family values rhetoric.

If an elected official claims to support policies that will never see the light of day as actual legislation in either chamber of Congress, it's a good idea to look into what HE (and they're almost always "hes") is up to.

In the succeeding paragraphs, I'm going to advocate "truth-in-politics" when it comes to the slim-and-none chances for certain constitutional amendments.

The last significant vote on a constitutional ban on abortion (The Human Life Amendment) came in 1983 with legislation presented by Republican Senator Hatch of Utah and Democratic Senator Eagleton of Missouri. It got 49 votes -- many more than it could get today -- and was not anywhere receiving enough votes for cloture (let alone for passage, where it required 67 votes to get through as an amendment to the Constitution).

Despite suggestions otherwise by presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney, a constitutional amendment banning abortion has NO CHANCE of getting through the Senate. It also has no chance of getting through the House, where it would take two-thirds of that body for passage (about 290 votes).

But what a constitutional amendment stating that marriage is between a man and a woman -- period? The last vote on that matter was in 2004, when Republicans controlled both Houses. In the Senate, it also got 49 affirmative votes (a popular number) and 50 in the negative.

Proposed amendments banning abortion still peek up their heads in the Congress, but they never even make it out of committees. They are DOA.

Again, an imaginary ban on states recognizing gay marriage has ZERO chance of passing, particularly with the number of seats Democrats added in 2006 -- and the additional ones they're poised to get in 2008.

What are elected officials who propose constitutional amendments on abortion and gay marriage doing? Frankly, they're pandering to the group whom they perceive as social conservatives. They're suggesting something is possible when it's not. They're "blowing smoke" at us.

I don't know where Senators Vitter and Craig are standing on such matters nowadays. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if they're still trying to sell the same politics of illusion. They'll probably do so just as long as their constituents are willing to put up with them -- which, one hopes, will not be too long.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

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