Opponents of a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage gathered Wednesday outside the office of Ohio Republican congressman Steve Chabot to protest his decision to hold five hearings on the issue.
Chabot should concentrate on creating jobs, expanding access to health care, and increasing educational funding, said a group of community residents and representatives of the national Campaign to Protect the Constitution. Thelma McCray, 92, of Cincinnati, said Chabot should spend more time trying to help the elderly with health care. "I don't have time to waste telling other people how to live their lives, but I could use some help from you to buy prescription drugs," she said, addressing her comments to the congressman, who was not present.
In announcing the congressional hearings last month, Chabot said that "rogue judges and officials" who have allowed same-sex marriages in cities across the country have gone too far. He said the decision as to whether to legalize marriage for same-sex couples should be made by Americans and their elected representatives, not judges. The first hearing, on March 30, drew attention when former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, who had backed the federal Defense of Marriage Act eight years ago, testified against the amendment that would ban gay marriage. Chabot's next hearing, titled "Legal Threats to Traditional Marriage: Implications for Public Policy," is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Nancy Minson, of the Cincinnati Women's Political Caucus, said it is "absurd and wasteful" for federal elected officials to focus on legislation banning gay marriage at a time when the country has more critical concerns. "Legislators should get out of our bedrooms and work on helping Americans be safe, healthy, and secure," Minson said.
It is part of Chabot's job to hold hearings on the marriage issue as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said spokesman Todd Lindgren. He pointed out that Chabot also is active on the other congressional panels he serves on, the International Relations and Small Businesses committees. Chabot supports "traditional marriage," defined as a union between a man and a woman, but he is not a sponsor of the bill to ban gay marriage and is withholding public comment on the bill until after the hearings are completed, Lindgren said.