- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia says Republican Sen. George Allen wasted the public’s time pushing for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a measure Virginia voters will decide upon at the state level this fall.

Voters on Election Day will choose whether a ban on same-sex “marriage” and civil unions should be added to the Virginia Constitution. They also will have to elect to the Senate either Democrat James H. Webb Jr., a former Reagan Republican who opposes the measure, or Mr. Allen, an incumbent who supports it.

Political analysts agree that having a marriage amendment on the state ballot could help bring out more voters likely to vote with Mr. Allen.

“Clearly Allen enjoys the strong support of religious conservatives, and they will push him to address this issue somewhat in the campaign,” said Mark Rozell, professor of public policy at George Mason University. “This could be a wedge issue that the Republicans use to build support for George Allen. Presumably Jim Webb would have real potential appeal among some independents and conservative-leaning voters as a war hero and former Reagan administration official. But if he doesn’t meet that expectation on socially conservative issues, that may enable Republicans to draw a clear distinction between him and George Allen in order to show that George Allen is the clear conservative.”

Last week, the U.S. Senate rejected a procedural motion to force an up-or-down vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Mr. Allen, a former Virginia governor and possible presidential candidate in 2008, supported the amendment, saying “it protects the will of the people against the actions of unelected federal judges, who have been making laws instead of interpreting them.”

Mr. Webb, who supported Mr. Allen in 2000, said the vote was another political ploy meant to excite the Republican Party’s conservative base and distract voters from the growing national debt, the war in Iraq and issues along the U.S.-Mexican border.

“It’s not leadership to help tie up the government in a meaningless debate about whether we should amend our sacred Constitution with a deliberately divisive provision regarding gay marriage,” Mr. Webb told his supporters after winning the Democratic primary Tuesday. “[We need to] reach solutions based on common sense and sound judgment, rather than playing to the worst instincts of bigotry and fear mongering that unnecessarily divide us.”

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