Conservatives Change Tune on Marriage

The Arlington Group, an influential coalition of social-conservative activists in Washington, D.C., appears to have changed its approach to the federal marriage amendment, which is likely to come up for a vote this summer.

In a March 16 meeting, sources say that the group’s member organizations took a non-binding vote to back a one-sentence version of a constitutional amendment that simply states that marriage in the United States consists only of a union between a man and a woman. This differs from the version brought to the floor in 2004, which would have also forbidden state and federal courts from forcing states to recognize other states’ "civil unions" between members of the same sex.

The legal implications of this change are hotly debated, but the move is unusual because it represents a dramatic change of course politically. Divisions have emerged among conservatives as to the merits of last year’s two-sentence amendment. Some believe that it actually encourages or sanctions "civil union" laws. It is also believed that it will be easier to gain votes for the one-sentence amendment, and its near-passage would put many of its opponents on the spot in November.

Last May, the Arlington Group browbeat Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) into going to the Senate floor and withdrawing his marriage amendment — the exact same one-sentence amendment they may now support.