This week’s ruling by the Massachusetts high court upholding the legalization of homosexual “marriage” might galvanize Congress to act on a federal marriage amendment this year, lawmakers said yesterday.
“Marriage should not be redefined by the courts. And we in this body can’t let — we won’t let it,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said yesterday on the Senate floor.
“If that means we must amend the Constitution, as it seems increasingly likely, then we will do just that,” he said.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Feb. 3 opinion “makes it much more likely Congress will consider the federal marriage amendment this season,” said Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican and lead sponsor of a Senate resolution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the Constitution.
“I believe that [action on the marriage amendment] will come sooner because of the latest Massachusetts decision — another kick from the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican and lead sponsor of the House marriage-amendment bill.
“I think the public is very much tuned into this… and I think that they anticipate there will be action,” said Mrs. Musgrave.
Conservative leaders said they were heartened by President Bush’s personal endorsement of the federal marriage amendment at a Republican leadership retreat last weekend.
“I expect any day the president will call on Congress to pass it,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “I think the president is going to put a lot of weight behind passage of the [amendment].”
A spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said yesterday although final decisions haven’t been made on this year’s House legislative schedule, homosexual “marriage” continues to be a “major topic of discussion.”
Meanwhile, in Portland, Maine, yesterday, Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and front-runner presidential candidate said: “I support equal rights and the right of people to have civil-union, equal-partnership rights. I don’t support [homosexual] ‘marriage.’ I never have. That’s my position.”
Mr. Kerry added that the issue should be addressed at the state level and not by the federal government.
Homosexual “marriage” re-entered the national discussion this week when the Massachusetts high court ruled that only “marriage” for homosexuals — not civil unions — are constitutional.
It is expected that Massachusetts will issue the nation’s first marriage licenses to homosexual couples on May 17.
It also is expected that before long, homosexual couples who are legally “married” in Massachusetts will move to other states and seek legal recognition of their “marriages” there, setting off lawsuits around the country.
Many members of Congress, including the chairman of the House committee that will handle a federal marriage amendment, think a constitutional amendment is unnecessary because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“Under DOMA, states need not recognize ‘marriage’ licenses granted to same-sex couples under Massachusetts law or any other state,” Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said this week.
But DOMA might not be sufficient to protect a country that seems to be moving closer to “rule by judicial fiat,” said Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and co-sponsor of the federal marriage amendment. “While the Defense of Marriage Act may prevent this [Massachusetts] decision from being forced on the rest of the nation, it too may be thrown out by the courts,” he said.