Conservatives Pushing for Action on Marriage Amendment

President Bush’s hearty endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment in his State of the Union address has assuaged fears among conservatives about the White House’s support for the amendment. Now they would like to see the President actively push the amendment through Congress. “As far as marriage, obviously we were glad to see that [in the speech],” said Donald E. Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association. “But we would be much more happy to see some genuine action.” A few weeks ago, Bush riled some of his supporters when he told the Washington Post that “nothing will happen” with the amendment in the Senate, which soundly rejected it last year. Bush’s defeatist tone, conservative leaders told HUMAN EVENTS, alarmed the very people who helped turn out a record vote for him in November. Wildmon is a member of the Arlington Group–a newly formed coalition of conservative leaders–which wrote White House adviser Karl Rove on January 18 expressing concern about Bush’s comments to the Post. Since then, the White House has changed its tune. “It’s very clear now that it is a priority of the administration,” Free Congress Foundation Chairman Paul Weyrich told HUMAN EVENTS. Weyrich estimated there are at least 60 senators (67 are needed) who would vote for the amendment as it stands now–a significant improvement from the 48 who voted for cloture last July. It remains unclear if there are enough votes in the House, where it fell 49 votes short last fall. “Obviously, we’ve got to have some involvement from the White House,” Wildmon said. “That’s what we are seriously lacking right now.” Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America, told HUMAN EVENTS it might be more productive for Bush to lobby for the Marriage Protection Act, which would strip federal courts of jurisdiction over same-sex marriage cases and, more importantly, would require only a majority vote. The House passed it last year, but Senate Republicans didn’t pursue it. “If the President wants the rest of his agenda enacted, he has to energize his pro-family base,” Knight said. Former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer, now chairman of American Values, told HUMAN EVENTS, “I’m hoping that in the months ahead, Bush will spend the same kind of political capital on issues like marriage and judges that he is obviously spending on Social Security privatization.”


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