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Second day of
debate on federal marriage ban ends in Senate

Second day of
debate on federal marriage ban ends in Senate


Debate in the U.S. Senate over the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage wrapped up on Tuesday with 26 senators chiming in.

Debate in the U.S. Senate over the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage wrapped up on Tuesday with 26 senators chiming in on whether to write discrimination into the the country's most valued document. And despite another appeal for passage by President Bush, the amendment appeared headed toward certain defeat on Wednesday as supporters could not muster the 60 votes that will be needed to cut off debate and force an up or down vote on the measure.

Following are some excerpts from some of the senators' comments, in order of when they spoke:

Wayne Allard (Colorado Republican), the amendment's sponsor: "Marriage--the union of a man and a woman--has been the foundation of every civilization in human history. It is incorporated into the fabric of our culture and civil life. It is the platform on which children, families, and communities are nurtured.... My amendment takes the issue out of the hands of a handful of activist judges and puts it squarely back in the hands of the people."

Sam Brownback (Kansas Republican): "[W]e know from all the social data, in all societies, at all times, that the best place to raise children is [within] the union of a man and a woman.... You can raise good children in other settings, but the best--the optimal setting--is in the union between a man and a woman, bonded together for life.... That's something we've got social data on, but we also know that in our hearts."

Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania Republican): "When a court makes a judicial decision, they do so based on a judicial foundation that has a logical and rational basis to it and has logical consequences to it.... What Massachusetts did was the logical [conclusion] from Lawrence v. Texas.... It is the basis upon which they built their decision."

Harry Reid (Nevada Democrat): "This is not what the American people want to be talking about. With rare exception, they say that we are wasting the taxpayer's time doing this."

Dick Durbin (Illinois Democrat): "We're going to spend three or four days this week on an amendment that doesn't have a chance [to pass], that ranks 33rd [in] the Gallup poll when it comes to the interests of the American people.... Why are we doing this? Why aren't we focusing on the issues that count, if we have so little time [left in the legislative session]?"

John Warner (Virginia Republican): "I am concerned that the second sentence of this proposed constitutional amendment is unnecessarily vague and could well trample on the rights [of the states]."

Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey Democrat): "I have lots of visitors in my offices in New Jersey and here [in Washington], and not one of them came in to talk to me about gay marriage. They came in to talk to me about health insurance. They came to talk to me about their pensions disappearing."

Russ Feingold (Wisconsin Democrat): "Gay and lesbian Americans are our friends, our family members, our neighbors, our colleagues. They should not be used as pawns in a cynical political exercise."

David Vitter (Louisiana Republican): "[Louisiana] passed a state constitutional marriage amendment...with 78% of the vote. The folks in Louisiana want those values upheld. They don't want them redefined radically by activist courts...courts in other states like Massachusetts. And make no mistake--that is what is happening."

Orrin Hatch (Utah Republican): "Yesterday the distinguished Democratic leader came to the floor...with a laundry list of issues that we could be addressing instead of this amendment. [But] ultimately, I think we are capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time. In two days we will be taking up floor time to debate a bill to create a race-based government for the state of Hawaii. I will not hold my breath waiting for these same folks to argue then that we should be discussing more pressing issues."

John Thune (South Dakota Republican): "Nothing is more fundamental, nothing is more important to the fabric of the American society than the family. And that is what this debate is really all about."

John McCain (Arizona Republican): "I do not at this time support the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment. The proposed amendment would establish in our Constitution a permanent resolution of debate that is currently and properly being resolved in different ways in 50 different states by the peoples' elected representatives."

Jon Kyl (Arizona Republican): "In July 2004 we were looking only at Massachusetts. Today state courts in four other states have followed Massachusetts's lead.... [T]he concern about the courts intruding into this area is not a hypothetical future concern but a reality today."

Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts Democrat): "A vote in support of this amendment has nothing to do with the protection of marriage. A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnerships, against all other efforts by states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law. It's a vote to impose discrimination on all 50 states and to deny them the right to write and interpret their state constitutions and state laws."

Mark Dayton (Minnesota Democrat): "[F]or the first in our nation's history, the proponents of this amendment would add discrimination to our Constitution. They would tell one group of people--a social minority--that equal rights and equal protection do not apply to them."

Tom Harkin (Iowa Democrat): "The only thing lower than President Bush's polls right now [is the] standing of Congress. No wonder why--look at what we're debating here, while all of these other issues go by the wayside. What about the real needs and concerns of working American families?"

Patty Murray (Washington Democrat): "Why are we spending time on political games when we have soldiers in harm's way who are serving us honorably around the world? Don't they deserve better than this? Why is the Senate bringing up divisive issues, when we need right now more than ever to come together as a country and address the challenges that confront us?"

John Cornyn (Texas Republican): "This is not an issue that we have gratuitously brought up. This is one that has been forced upon us [by the courts]. I guess what our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would prefer is [that] we just be quiet and gradually allow the Constitution of the United States to be a handful of activist judges."

Mel Martinez (Florida Republican): "I believe that this marriage amendment takes a measured and reasonable approach to the problem of courts redefining marriage."

Jim Talent (Missouri Republican): "It's clear that there's a well-organized and deliberate movement in this country to redefine marriage, to change our most social institution, without regard to the right of the people to govern themselves. Unless we pass a constitutional amendment, we'll allow the courts of this country to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans on an issue that is of greater importance to them on a day-to-day basis--because it involves the way in which their children and other peoples' children are going to be raised--than most of the legislation that we debate."

Dianne Feinstein (California Democrat): "[A]ll family law has historically been relegated to the states. That's marriage, divorce, adoption, [and] custody. All aspects of family law and domestic relations have been the province of the states. That's what the Supreme Court has said in case after case.... States are well able to handle marriage on their own."

Richard Shelby (Alabama Republican): "[J]udges have taken upon themselves to make decisions reserved for state legislatures.... [T]hese activist judges do not have to be responsive to anyone and are accountable to no one. Abraham Lincoln reminded us in the Gettysburg Address that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Activist judges, accountable to no one, should not be allowed to govern this country."

Jeff Sessions (Alabama Republican): "We are not here because of some political agenda. [Instead,] traditional, mainstream Americans were going about their business when out of the blue, courts began a pattern of rulings that subverted democratic principles and subverted a long-held meaning of marriage."

Tom Carper (Delaware Democrat): "I'm not convinced that, given the action of my own state and 45 other states and the actions of the Congress [in 1996 in passing the Defense of Marriage Act]...that we need to enshrine into the Constitution...what we've already enshrined into state laws and federal law."

Barbara Boxer (California Democrat): "I think [the amendment] is divisive. I think it's unnecessary.... [T]he proposed amendment is nothing more than a cynical election-year ploy." (The Advocate)

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