Appearing on ABCs “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” three days after the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) said he supported a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage.
Many members of Congress, Stephanopoulos said to Frist, “are now drafting a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. . . . It says that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state nor state or federal law shall be construed to require that marital status be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups. Do you support this amendment?”
“I absolutely do, of course, I do,” said Frist. “I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament and that should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between what has traditionally in our Western values been defined as between a man and a woman. So I would support that amendment.”
At a July 2 event announcing the appointment of Randall Tobias to head his new $15 billion initiative to fight AIDS in Africa, President Bush declined to immediately join Frist in this cause. “I dont know if it is necessary yet,” said Bush. “Lets let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing. What I do support is the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso last week queried a number of Senators, and Rep. Mark Foley (R.-Fla.), a Senate candidate, about whether they agree with Frist about an amendment to ban gay marriage.
Sen. Frist went on TV last week to back a constitutional amendment that would basically forbid homosexual marriage. Will you vote for such an amendment if it is comes before the Senate?
Sen. Wayne Allard (R.-Colo.): I havent had the chance to look at the wording or anything like that. Im not sure theyve got the wording together. You know, Im not one thats supportive of-Im one that wants to encourage marriage, traditional marriage. But I just have to take a look at the language.
Sen. Frist went on television and said he would be in favor of a constitutional amendment that would essentially forbid homosexual marriage. Would you support such a constitutional amendment in the Senate?
Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.): Well, no, I want to see the language. I want to see whether it comes to a ripe issue, whether its live, it depends on the language. I just want to see.. . .
Baucus: In principle, Id be skeptical.
For procedural reasons, mostly, or would you argue its a state issue?
Baucus: Partly its procedural, partly its a state issue, primarily-it is a state issue. It sounds like something I would not-it would have to be a steep uphill climb for me to support it.
If states start recognizing homosexual marriage, would that be good policy, or do you think it would be harmful-not necessarily from your legislative position, but your personal view?
Baucus: As is the case today, thats up to the states.
Sen. Frist has publicly backed a constitutional amendment that essentially forbids homosexual marriage. Would you vote for such an amendment if it is offered?
Sen. Conrad Burns (R.-Mont.): Id have to take a look at it, I dont know.
In principle, would you-
Burns: Well, in principle, I dont think anybody ought to participate that way, in principle. But can you pass a law to prevent it? Can we legislate morals? No. We never have been able to.
Some people would argue that the state recognizes marriages, and so it isnt so much a matter of outlawing something as it is-
Burns: Theyre not recognized in Montana.
You would prefer a state-by-state-
Burns: I dont care what the other states do.
Im asking every senator I see today-and youre a Senate hopeful, so I want to ask you-Senator Frist has publicly backed a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage. Will you vote for such an amendment if you become a U.S. senator?
Rep. Mark Foley (R.-Fla.): I dont think we need it. I mean, Im looking at it, and I understand that he made the statement on ABC this morning. I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in the House, and I think that was appropriate and obviously the right vote. But I dont think it needs to be added to the Constitution.
If you saw homosexual marriage as being a realistic possibility-if the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalizes homosexual marriage, and then the Defense of Marriage Act is found unconstitutional-would you feel compelled in that case to support the amendment?
Foley: Id have to really look at it. Its much, much too early to determine that. The court hasnt ruled yet. We wait until all these court rulings to become effective before we determine whats the best course of public policy.
Sen. Frist said last week that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage. Would you vote for such an amendment if it is offered?
Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.): Oh, yes.
Some other senators are saying this is just a state issue. What would you say to that?
Inhofe: Well, I dont like constitutional amendments as a general rule. But I think if this [homosexual marriage] came up, I would be supportive of the amendment.
Sen. Frist said he supports a constitutional amendment that essentially forbids homosexual marriage. Would you vote for such an amendment if it is offered?
Sen. Jim Jeffords (I.-Vt.): Absolutely not.
Sen. Frist, on TV last week, said he would support a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage. Would you support such an amendment if it were offered in the Senate?
Sen. Tim Johnson (D.-S.D.): No, theres no need for such an amendment. Its just nonsense.
Do you think that because its not likely to happen? Or, if it became imminent that it was going to happen, would you think that would then be appropriate, that kind of amendment?
Johnson: Its not imminent, and this is a state-by-state decision about government laws on marriage and civil unions.
Sen. Frist has backed a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage. Do you agree with him, and will you vote for that amendment if it is offered?
Sen. Mark Pryor (D.-Ark.): Ill have to look at it. Im generally reluctant to support constitutional amendments. And that is traditionally a state issue. Do you know anything about it?
It says something like, nothing in this constitution, or in any state constitution, or any federal or state law shall be construed to extend the benefits of marriage to any union other than that of a man and a woman.
Pryor: Well, Ill just have to look at it.
Sen. Frist said he supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Will you vote for such amendment if it comes before the Senate?
Sen. Pat Roberts (R.-Kan.): I havent done my homework on that to determine whether I would or not, but I voted here several years ago not to permit that, and that is my position. I have always been a bit leery of constitutional amendments. I dont know if thats the only solution to this. That would be my only hesitation. . .What was that, two years ago [the Defense of Marriage Act]-when we had the vote in the Senate, and it passed overwhelmingly. That was when Hawaii was going to take state action. So to answer that, we passed legislation to say that a state did not have to recognize that. Since then, there havent been many states, but then theres-what is it, Massachusetts?
Roberts: Well, it would be Massachusetts. And how that relates to Pennsylvania puts an entirely different light on that. But whether a constitutional amendment is the proper course of action, I dont know, I havent done my homework to that extent to do that. But when I voted last time, it reflected my opposition to same-sex marriage.