One of Congress’ specific responsibilities is to propose amendments to the Constitution. This requires a two-thirds vote of both houses to start the process moving. Once Congress has voted on and passed with sufficient numbers the proposed amendment, it is then handed to the 50 states to be voted up or down. Once three-fourths of the states have voted in favor of the proposed amendment, it is fully ratified and becomes part of the Constitution. This has only been accomplished 27 times in our country’s history, with the last amendment ratified in 1992. (Not that the government pays any attention to this simple amendment.)
A majority of the people of the United States are in favor of legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This definition would effectively block people of the same sex from being married, as well as polygamy, bigamy, group, clan, line, and a myriad of other non-traditional marriage arrangements. If “adult” is added to the definition, as in “an adult man and an adult woman,” it would also prohibit the man/boy unions championed by organizations like NAMBLA. While “adult” doesn’t appear in the text, here is the exact phrasing of the proposed amendment:
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.
What would the passing of this proposed amendment accomplish? Well, for starters, it would stop various judges in the U.S. from messing with what is a legislative function, as stated in Senate Resolution 275: “the power to regulate marriage lies with the legislature and not with the judiciary and the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts specifically states that the judiciary ‘shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men’…” What I find interesting in the various judicial rulings is that marriage has already been defined by Congress: the “word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” This legal precedent was set by the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 and signed by President Clinton.
I find it interesting that marriage was defined in the law years before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled 4 to 3 that the Massachusetts state constitution prohibits denying a marriage license to same-sex couples. Why are these justices allowing same-sex marriage licenses when federal law prohibits it? The most wet-behind-the-ears lawyer could remind them that when there is a conflict between state and federal laws, the federal law trumps. Don’t believe me? There was a heated debate that settled the matter some years ago.
Since people who should know better have been ignoring the law of the land, it is understandable that some senators have wanted to strengthen the laws by elevating them to the status of a Constitutional amendment. But this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. On July 14th, the Senate voted on a motion of cloture, a legal term for ending the debate in preparation for a final vote on the bill. A motion of cloture requires 60 votes in the Senate, and the motion died with only 48 voting in favor. Three Democrats voted in favor of the motion: Robert Byrd, Zell Miller, and Ben Nelson. But six Republicans voted against it: Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Lincoln Chaffee, Susan Collins, John McCain, Olympia Snow, and John Sununu. Even if all the Republicans had voted for the motion and the three Democrats joined in, the motion still would have failed to reach the 60 votes required.
Regardless of what the senators and pundits may say about why they voted against this motion, the reality is that the 50 senators who voted against it did so because they consider you, Joe and Jane Citizen, too stupid to be bothered with this proposed amendment. I often hear Democrats talk about the importance of democracy and how every vote should count, but when it comes to putting issues before the people, Democrats have proven that they’d rather not have you deal with government. The Senate could have passed the proposed amendment and placed the decision at the feet of the masses, but in the mind’s eye of roughly half the Senate, the masses are asses and shouldn’t be bothered. In addition to this attitude of disdain for the American voters, Democrats couldn’t vote for the amendment because they were afraid that it might actually be ratified. After all, 38 states currently have laws with language similar to this proposed amendment, and 38 is the magic number of states needed to ratify a proposed Constitutional amendment.
This 48-50 vote also exposes something else important — Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, the Democrat President and Vice-President hopefuls, didn’t show up to vote at all. They say that their presence wasn’t necessary to defeat the motion, but the reality is they were too busy campaigning to do their senatorial jobs. As pointed out by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Senator Kerry was absent 64% of the time in 2003, and 87% of the time in 2004 when the Senate voted on legislative issues. How would you respond to an employee who only showed up to do his or her job 13% to 36% of the time? And being a senator is John Kerry’s job. Kerry took an oath “that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,” but it is clear from his working history that he doesn’t hold this oath too seriously.
In a news article published today, Lee Davidson discusses how Senator John Edwards’ record is equally lackluster. Davidson points out that Edwards has been consistently at or near the bottom of attendance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the three years he has served on this committee, he has attended only 18% of the hearings and 20% of the business meetings when the average for the entire committee was double and triple Edwards’ attendance. In the 108th Congress alone, Edwards’ attendance at business meetings has slipped even more; his attendance at three out of 34 meetings means his 9% attendance is almost eight times lower than the committee average.
So Senators Kerry and Edwards want to be your next President and Vice-President. If elected, they will place their hands on a Bible and swear, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of (Vice) President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Does this mean the “best of [their] Ability” lies somewhere between 9% and 36% of their time? Boy, that’s the kind of work ethic I really want to see in a President. Not!