Republican senator George Allen of Virginia has joined the president and a backpedaling (as of this week) Senate majority leader Bill Frist in saying he won't endorse a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit marriages to those between men and women. Instead, he said, he wants to take a wait-and-see approach before considering options to "preserve the traditional institution of marriage" as between a man and a woman, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
That same tack has been taken by the president, who said he didn't think the amendment was necessary "yet." Frist, after telling ABC News last month that he would definitely support the amendment, has since backed off, saying he also wants to wait for a pending decision by Massachusetts's highest court, which is set to rule on a gay marriage case brought by seven same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in that state. Many legal experts are predicting a pro-gay-marriage ruling in that case.
The proposed constitutional amendment has gotten increased attention since the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law against same-sex sodomy in June and a decision by the Canadian government to allow gay marriage. Allen is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP election arm. When he campaigned for the Senate in 2000 he accused incumbent Democrat Charles S. Robb of supporting gay marriage. Allen's approach is "very similar to the position articulated by the White House," David Smith, communications director for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Times-Dispatch. "We're obviously pleased that Senator Allen has not taken a position [on the constitutional amendment]. It's our hope we would be able to make our case why he should not support this draconian effort."
The proposed constitutional amendment was introduced May 21 in the House by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado. It has 39 cosponsors in the House. It has not yet been introduced in the Senate.