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Musgrave will
wait and see on same-sex marriage ban

Musgrave will
wait and see on same-sex marriage ban


Antigay Republican congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado said she will put her signature federal constitutional marriage ban proposal on hold ahead of next year's difficult reelection campaign.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has put her measure banning gay marriage on hold as she launches her battle for reelection, waiting to see what voters and the courts think about the proposed constitutional amendment before she takes any further action. The two-term Colorado Republican has new worries after GOP leaders rated her as one of the 10 most vulnerable Republicans in the country, even though she represents a heavily Republican district.

The antigay conservative firebrand angered sugar beet growers in her district recently when she backed the Central American Free Trade Act, which would cut subsidies for American producers. Democrats say she is out of step with most of her district in her support for fellow Republican representative Tom Tancredo's campaign against illegal immigrants.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Musgrave said she is putting her trademark legislation banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage on hold as court battles over the issue unfold at the state level. "We're kind of waiting to see what happens. There is overwhelming support for marriage to be defined as the union between a man and woman. We'll see what happens before I run it up again," she said.

Musgrave dismissed her ranking as one of the 10 most vulnerable Republicans by the Retain Our Majority Program, a political action committee set up by House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas. She said she is confident of winning reelection, despite the fact that her margin last year was one of the narrowest among victorious House incumbents. Musgrave blamed the close election on changes in campaign finance laws that opened a loophole allowing the creation of new, private groups, known as "527" organizations. They are named for the section of federal tax law that allows them to raise large sums of election money as long as they do not coordinate directly with a candidate's campaign.

Musgrave said gay rights groups and others spent $2.5 million on television advertising attacking her. One featured a Musgrave-like actress with big hips stealing a watch from a corpse while criticizing her vote against barring nursing homes from charging fees after a patient dies. Another showed a pink-suited Musgrave look-alike picking the pocket of a soldier and referred to her vote to cut veterans' benefits in a preliminary bill. "They were brutal. My hips were not that big. I can't compete with 527s," Musgrave said.

Joelle Martinez, spokeswoman for the Colorado Democratic Party, said Musgrave is out of step with her district on CAFTA and same-sex marriage and said both issues will hurt her in next year's election. She said sugar beet growers have already called Democratic Party headquarters saying they want her out of office. "I know there were a lot of people who were shocked and surprised and willing to do something," she said. Martinez said Musgrave also upset unaffiliated and third party voters, who see her gay marriage amendment as support for big government and who are expected to make the difference in next year's election. "I think that's why she's backing off this big-government bill," she said.

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