- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Try, try again

Senate Republicans say they will push ahead with last year’s failed constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, in part because voters’ concern over marriage in the last election has given Republicans political capital.

“I think it’d be foolhardy to back off when we’ve got a good head of steam coming in from the last election,” said Sen. Wayne Allard, the Colorado Republican who yesterday reintroduced his constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

He and other Republicans said federal courts are clearly trying to redefine marriage, and Congress must step in. Voters in 11 states passed state ballot initiatives in November to protect traditional marriage, and some analysts said the issue helped Republicans win key victories on Election Day.

“Democrats are re-evaluating their positions on many social issues; my bet is that this is one,” said Mr. Allard, who cited at least five more votes for the amendment from new Republican senators.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, promised a Senate vote on the amendment and said he is hopeful it will pass the 109th Congress.

Democrats called the push for the amendment “political payback.”

“The only reason Washington Republicans would introduce a measure that has already failed is to appease a small group of right-wing extremists who are now running their party,” said Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “The Democratic Party is still opposed to this amendment. It is wrong to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.”

Last year, the amendment failed by a 227-186 margin in the House in September and a 48-50 procedural vote in the Senate in July. It would require two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states to take effect.

Scalia’s advice

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday that people of faith should not fear being viewed by “educated circles” as “fools for Christ.”

The justice was in Baton Rouge, La., to address the Knights of Columbus Council 969 centennial celebration. He told a crowd of 350 that there’s nothing wrong with “traditional Christianity,” Penny Brown Roberts reports at www.theadvocate.com.

“To believe in traditional Christianity is something else,” Justice Scalia said. “For the son of God to be born of a virgin? I mean, really. To believe that He rose from the dead and bodily ascended into heaven? How utterly ridiculous. To believe in miracles? Or that those who obey God will rise from the dead and those who do not will burn in hell?

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed.”

Justice Scalia praised “traditional Catholics” who say the rosary, go on pilgrimages, kneel during the Eucharist and “follow religiously the teaching of the pope,” adding that “intellect and reason need not be laid aside for religion.”

“It is not irrational to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain. There is something wrong with rejecting, a priori, the existence of miracles.”

The justice added: “If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Democrats charged

The son of a first-term congresswoman and the son of Milwaukee’s former acting mayor were among five Democratic activists charged yesterday with slashing the tires of vans rented by Republicans to drive voters and monitors to the polls on Election Day.

Sowande Omokunde, son of Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democrat, and MichaelPratt, the son of former Milwaukee acting mayor Marvin Pratt, were among those charged with criminal damage to property, a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The activists are accused of flattening the tires on 25 vehicles rented by the state Republican Party to get out the vote and deliver poll watchers Nov. 2.

Also charged were Lewis Gibson Caldwell III and Lavelle Mohammad, both from Milwaukee, and Justin J. Howell of Racine, Wis., the Associated Press reports.

The GOP rented more than 100 vehicles that were parked in a lot adjacent to a Bush campaign office. The party planned to drive poll watchers to polling places by 7 a.m. and deliver any voters who didn’t have a ride.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted sources Sunday as saying the five were paid staffers for the John Kerry presidential campaign.

Some Republican officials have criticized Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann, a Democrat, for taking more than two months to bring charges.

Mr. McCann said FBI agents were involved in interviewing witnesses in four states: Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and New York.

“We asked the FBI, knowing that this probably wouldn’t be their first priority,” he said.

Fecund lawmaker

A Tennessee state lawmaker who heads a committee on child welfare has acknowledged that he lives in separate homes with two women whose children he fathered.

Sen. John Ford testified in a Juvenile Court hearing in November as part of his defense in a child-support case over increasing his financial support of another child he fathered with a third woman, the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis reported Sunday.

The Memphis Democrat has tried to make use of a law he authored that keeps court-ordered support lower when a father is financially responsible for other children.

Mr. Ford said he lives some days with ex-wife Tamara Mitchell-Ford and the three children they had together. On others, he said, he stays with his longtime girlfriend, Connie Mathews, and their two children.

A follow-up hearing is scheduled for today.

Mr. Ford and Miss Mitchell-Ford went through a bitter divorce in 2002 that led to Miss Mitchell-Ford’s jailing after she plowed her car through Miss Mathews’ home.

Mr. Ford said he pays nearly all bills for both families. They stay in houses he owns and where he also lives, though neither home is in his south Memphis Senate district.

Mr. Ford is battling a lawsuit filed by Dana Smith, who is trying to increase his court-ordered support of their 10-year-old daughter. Miss Smith, a former employee under Mr. Ford, won a 1996 sexual-harassment verdict against him.

Not-guilty plea

A former campaign-finance director for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Los Angeles yesterday to charges of filing false reports during her 2000 run for the U.S. Senate.

Lawyers for David Rosen, 40, told Magistrate Judge Stephen Hillman that they planned to ask to move the case to Washington.

Each of the four counts of filing false reports with the Federal Election Commission could carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Mr. Rosen, who lives in Chicago, was released and ordered to appear in District Court in Los Angeles for a March 22 trial.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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