Republican senator Arlen Specter said Tuesday that he would
vote for the federal Marriage Protection Act when it is
heard before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.
While Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, says he opposes a ban on same-sex marriage,
he agrees with conservative senators that the measure
should be voted on before the full Senate. So he will
support the bill in the subcommittee, bringing it one step
closer to a vote before all 100 senators.
The amendment would codify marriage as the union
of one man and one woman, overriding
Massachusetts's same-sex marriage law. Efforts to pass
the legislation failed in both houses of Congress last year.
To become law, a constitutional amendment requires a
two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and
must be ratified by three quarters of the states.
The Senate panel on the Constitution, Civil
Rights, and Property Rights, which will hold the vote,
is made up of five Republicans and four Democrats.
Many gay rights leaders were hoping the moderate Specter
would oppose the measure and kill it for the year. But
Specter said the bill's supporters, including Kansas
Republican Sam Brownback, deserve their "day in court."
Christopher Barron, political director of the
gay political group Log Cabin Republicans, called the
legislation "politics at its worst."
But conservative Republicans have found a solid
response from their base on this and other social
issues, and while the measure is not likely to become
law, keeping it alive could help the Republicans maintain
their control of both houses of Congress a year from
now. (Matthew Berger, Sirius OutQ News)