Monday, June 19, 2006


Marriage Amendment: We Don't Need Senate Approval

(Published by June 14, 2006)

Forty-five states — fully 90 percent of the United States — have enacted legislation or amended state constitutions to ensure that marriage is defined only as the union of one man and one woman.

In spite of this overwhelming national consensus, the U.S. Senate recently rejected the federal Marriage Protection Amendment, falling far short of the two-thirds supermajority required to amend the Constitution. The vote was 49 to 48, eighteen votes short of passage and light-years short of accurately reflecting the will of the American public on this issue

I think it’s time to do an end run on our out of touch senators. The framers of the Constitution wisely recognized that an alternative process to amend the Constitution might be necessary in order to bypass an unresponsive Senate. Specifically, the Constitution states that a two-thirds vote in the Senate can initiate an amendment, “or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments…”

Thus if thirty-four states support a constitutional amendment, the Senate is obligated to call a convention in which the amendment would be approved by convention delegates, essentially bypassing the Senate in the process.

Could a federal defense of marriage amendment garner the support of thirty-four states? Yes, it’s not only possible, it’s highly likely. It might not be a slam-dunk but it’s certainly a high percentage shot.

It’s a reasonably safe bet that every one of the thirty-one red states would support the amendment. After all, every one of them has implemented legislation or amendments at the state level to preserve traditional marriage. Perhaps one or two would be reluctant to make this a federal issue, but we could certainly count on around thirty votes from this group.

More importantly, fourteen blue states have also enacted either legislation or state amendments to preserve traditional marriage. Even California, among the bluest of blue states, voted convincingly to preserve traditional marriage as recently as six years ago. Doesn’t it seem likely to you that far more than the required three or four blue states would therefore support the federal amendment?

To me, this amendment process looks like a cakewalk when compared to the nearly impossible task of converting or replacing eighteen senators.

This journey to a constitutional amendment would be quite an adventure. There is no precedent to follow because the process has never been successfully invoked. Why? Primarily because elitist senators and journalists don’t want you to know that it’s possible to push them aside. They therefore avoid acknowledging that this process even exists. When forced to acknowledge it, they almost always dismiss it as a risky maneuver that would lead to a constitutional crisis. That argument is self-serving hogwash. American citizens selected as delegates would be faithful to their appointed duty. Only a group of Washington elitists would consider a state appointed delegation of American citizens a threat to American democracy.

In spite of the lack of precedent, it wouldn’t take much to pull this off. Competent leadership and management are all that is necessary. Foot soldiers are already on duty, or in reserve and ready to return to duty, in nearly every state. This dedicated army of concerned citizens has already won the battle at the state level. They would be more than willing to do it one more time in support of a national amendment that would ensure their previous efforts were not overturned by activist judges and out of touch legislators.

All this army needs is leadership and structure. The leaders of the various organizations that are dedicated to the promotion of traditional marriage in Washington need to recognize that it’s time for plan B. Stop the futile lobbying of Washington elitists and take this campaign to the people. When American citizens are allowed to vote, preservation of traditional marriage always wins.

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