- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The two Democrats vying to unseat Sen. George Allen of Virginia say his support of a failed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman was a political maneuver designed to score points with the Republican Party’s conservative base.

“At a time when young American men and women are risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, gas prices are skyrocketing, people across America face uncertainty at their jobs and millions of children remain without health insurance, it is incredibly disappointing that George Bush and George Allen have chosen to focus on this unnecessary and divisive proposal,” said Harris Miller, a former information-technology executive.

James H. Webb Jr., who served as secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, agreed. It is “just another [Karl] Rove-era example of trying to manipulate people’s emotions and draining the energy of the Congress when there are serious issues to be debated and resolved.”

Mr. Miller and Mr. Webb will face off Tuesday in Virginia’s Democratic primary. The winner will face Mr. Allen in November.

The Senate, by a 49-48 vote, yesterday rejected a procedural motion to force an up-or-down vote on the proposed constitutional amendment. Supporters needed 60 votes to cut off debate and proceed to a vote on the issue itself.

Mr. Allen, who supported the Marriage Protection Amendment in 2004 and co-sponsored the measure this year, reiterated his support of the proposal, saying this week that it “protects the will of the people against the actions of unelected federal judges who have been making laws instead of interpreting them.”

“I intend to vote for the protection of the institution of marriage because I truly believe the family is the most important institution in our society,” he said. “The family is where the child learns right from wrong and certain principles for living and a family with one mother and one father is the best setting to teach those principles.”

President Bush on Monday asked Congress to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Mr. Bush said the amendment would establish a national definition, but would leave to state legislatures the issue of civil unions or other legal benefit arrangements for unmarried partners.

The debate has drawn emotional reactions from voters in Virginia, who will decide in November whether to pass a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex “marriage” and civil unions.

Opponents say the proposal is a form of discrimination and is unnecessary because Virginia already limits marriage to a man and a woman and bans civil unions.

Proponents agree with Mr. Allen that the amendment is needed to guard against “activist” judges.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Webb oppose the amendment.

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