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Monday, June 05, 2006

Gay Marriage Ban isn't the Wold's Best Wedge Issue

(Keywords: , , , and the seem to think 33% constitutes a majority)

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush offered a new pledge of support Monday for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, a measure expected to fail in the Senate and one critics blasted as an election-year diversion.

"This national question requires a national solution," Bush said in an event attended by supporters of the amendment. "And on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States."

Of course, the amendment doesn't have a prayer of passing. And, until now, Bush has shown absolutely no interest in it. In fact, according to Newsweek, "One of [Bush's] old friends told NEWSWEEK that same-sex marriage barely registers on the president's moral radar. 'I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff,' said the friend, who requested anonymity to discuss his private conversations with Bush."

So, of course, this is all about election year politics, the same Newsweek article quotes Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention as saying, ""It's the one issue I have seen that eclipses even the abortion issue among Southern Baptists." All Bush and the GOP have left are that final, rabid, unthinking 33%. They need every single one of them at the polls. So they finally got around to throwing them a bone.

But this time it may not work - in fact, it may turn around and bite republicans in the ass. The big problem here is that the amendment doesn't have a hope in hell of passing. According to Associated Press, "All Senate Democrats, except Ben Nelson of Nebraska, oppose the amendment, and critics say Bush's efforts are primarily aimed at energizing conservative voters for the November elections. Together with moderate Republicans, the Democrats are expected to block a yes-or-no vote, killing the measure for the year."

That's right. In a year when the GOP is in real danger of losing either - if not both - the House and Senate, they've decided to throw the moderates under the bus. When these moderate republicans go back to their districts, they'll be forced to explain to the fundamentalist morons why they voted to 'destroy' marriage. While there's almost no danger these fundies will vote for the democratic opponents, there's a real possibility that they just won't go to the polls at all - a common tendency of dissatisfied conservatives. A move made to drive conservative christians to the polls may just get them to stay home in many key districts.

Of course, the idea that the GOP would use the Constitution as a political hammer may also offend some conservatives already unhappy with their leadership in Washington. And it's not likely to sway any centrists, since the middle's worries are about Iraq, gas prices, and health care costs. Even though most oppose same sex marriage, polls show it's a very low priority.

As a wedge issue, it doesn't strike me as extremely smart, since it splits off the minority from the majority and leaves the GOP with the smaller piece of the electoral pie.