Originally published on Advocate.com March 02 2004 1:00 AM ET
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment this week, according to a report in Time magazine. But that may be it for the measure this year, as it has almost no chance of being passed by Congress during this session.
According to Time, Republican leaders admit in private that in neither chamber do they have anything like the two-thirds vote needed in both to send it along to the states. Many say the Bush announcement in support of the amendment took them almost completely by surprise. House speaker Dennis Hastert first heard about it when the White House phoned his office just 15 minutes before the president appeared on TV. Hastert, who opposes same-sex marriage but suspects that the fight over a constitutional ban could be a quagmire for Republicans, refused afterward to speak publicly to reporters.
Hastert's silence was better than the explicitly cool reception that Bush's announcement got from other leading Republicans on Capitol Hill. Senate majority leader Bill Frist was highly skeptical of its chances for passage. So was House majority leader Tom DeLay. David Dreier, the powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee, flatly opposes amending the Constitution, arguing that the question of gay marriage instead "should go through the courts."