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Marriage in The House


As Ramesh mentioned, yesterday the House voted on an amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The vote was 227 in favor, 186 opposed, with 20 not voting. Thirty-six Democrats voted in favor of the amendment and twenty-seven Republicans voted against. Although this fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass an amendment, it improved significantly on the vote in the Senate. This vote is part of a long-term effort to pass a Marriage Protection Amendment. Although the moment of truth has not yet arrived, we shall surely get there. For more on how and why a marriage amendment can pass, go here.

The debate over the Marriage Protection Amendment was different in the House than it was in the Senate. During the Senate debate, Democrats simply claimed that the Defense of Marriage Act would hold. Almost no Senate Democrats actually argued in favor of same-sex marriage. In the House, though, Democrats from safely liberal districts felt free to advocate for gay marriage. This produced an interesting contradiction. On the one hand, most of the Democratic speakers treated same-sex marriage as a matter of fundamental rights. On the other hand, many of these same Democrats insisted that the issue ought to be left up to the states. But of course, if the analogy between same-sex marriage and civil rights is valid, then the matter cannot be left to the states. On the contrary, if it is truly discriminatory to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, then gay marriage would have to be imposed on the country as a whole by the courts. So the Democrats make a game of throwing the federalist argument at Republicans. But the truth is, the Democrats are using a civil rights argument virtually guaranteed to bring about what they claim can never happen–court imposed national gay marriage.


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