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06 June 2006

Feingold and the Federal Marriage Amendment

As many of you probably know already, the Senate is debating the Federal Marriage Amendment, which proposes to amend the Constitution to define marriage. Its text, as follows:
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, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
This, of course, is the most important issue America faces, according to the Republican Party. The war, the deficit, rising fuel costs, global warming, poverty, improving education, stablizing the economy, and a host of other issues are nothing compared to the threat of two people that love each other getting married. And, then, there's the immigration problem: all those people flocking across the border, with no respect for our immigration laws, all to escape same-sex marriage in Canada. It is Canada that all the illegal immigrants are coming from, right?

Thank goodness someone's saving us from those activist judges. They'd probably just make another radical, horrible decision.

Sarcasm aside, it's clear that this won't pass, and is merely homophobia and hatred in its worst form. And, stopping by Daily Kos this morning, Senator Russ Feingold called it what it was-- A Shameful Political Ploy:
The federal marriage amendment, which would write discrimination into the Constitution, is an obvious attempt to change the subject from topics that the Congress should be addressing to a hot button social issue intended to appeal to certain factions. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Frist plans to hold a vote on this mean-spirited proposal. It has no chance of receiving the two-thirds majority required for constitutional amendments. The only thing bringing it up now will accomplish is to push Congress further away from the issues it should be addressing and engage the Senate of the United States in a shameful political ploy.
The last thing we should be doing right now is playing politics with the Constitution, or with the lives of gay and lesbian Americans, who see this proposal for what it is - discrimination, pure and simple. Gay and lesbian Americans are our friends, our family members, our neighbors, and our colleagues. They should not be used as pawns in a political exercise.
Senator Feingold also spoke this afternoon in the Senate against the amendment.
Mr. President, the Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. For over two centuries it has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference with their most basic personal decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I am saddened, therefore, to be once again debating an amendment to our Constitution that is so inconsistent with our Nation's history of expanding and protecting freedom.
There is no doubt that the proposed federal marriage amendment would alter the basic principles of federalism that have served our nation well for over 200 years. The framers of our Constitution granted limited, enumerated powers to the Federal government, while reserving the remaining powers of government, including family law, to state governments. Marriage has traditionally been regulated by the States. As Professor Dale Carpenter told the Constitution Subcommittee in its first hearing on this topic nearly three years ago, “never before have we adopted a constitutional amendment to limit the States’ ability to control their own family law.” That is exactly what this proposed amendment would do. It would permanently restrict the ability of States to define and recognize marriage or any legally sanctioned unions as they see fit.
and finally,

Mr. President, we should not write discrimination and prejudice into the Constitution. And we should not prematurely cut off the important debates taking place in States across the country about how to define marriage by putting in place a permanent, restrictive federal definition of marriage.

As we sit here today, there are Americans across our country out of work, struggling to pay the month's bills, worrying about their lack of health insurance or their ability to put their kids through college. Instead of spending our limited time this session on a proposal that is destined to fail and will only divide Americans from one another, we should be addressing the issues that will make our Nation more secure, our communities stronger, and the future of our families brighter.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this unnecessary, mean-spirited, divisive and poorly thought out constitutional amendment.

I've included just a few highlights from both his DKos comments and his speech, but both are worth reading in full. Senator Feingold isn't taking the popular position on this issue, but he's taking the right position, and that's important.

Also, don't forget the pro-Feingold blog for gay and lesbian supporters, Equality for Feingold, if you want more on his support of equal rights throughout his career.


Blogger Angry American said...

I am glad that Russ is against this, but how do you turn a blind eye to the bill he wrote with John McCain that stifles free speech?

Fri Jun 09, 07:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Fitzy said...


I am glad that Russ is against this, but how do you turn a blind eye to the bill he wrote with John McCain that stifles free speech?

Well, the short answer is, I don't. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law was, I think, a fundamentally good idea, and deserved passage. They tried to get the money out of politics, and Senator Feingold has spoken in the past about public financing, which I think is a great idea.

I personally reject the notion that money equals speech, because I find it troubling that certain members of our society could have more "speech" than others because of their financial success. We should all have an equal opportunity to have our voices heard. This is what I think, but I can't speak for Senator Feingold.

However, I would say that even if you disagree with that position, you shouldn't give up on Feingold yet. My support for him is much more than support for a collection of ideas. I support him because he'll stand up for what he honestly thinks is right, regardless of the politics of the issue-- as can be seen with the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, gay marriage, Clinton's impeachment, campaign finance reform, and a host of other issues. More than that, he's open-minded and will listen to constituents. Those listening sessions aren't just well-crafted photo-ops, he takes and answers questions honestly, and even changed his position on the assault weapons ban because of a constituent's argument.

Don't let a single issue eliminate Feingold from your consideration.

Sat Jun 10, 10:26:00 AM EDT  

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