Daschle opposes amendment; Mass. polls buck national trend

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle announced his opposition to a constitutional marriage amendment Nov. 23 as two new Massachusetts polls suggested that adults in the state favor the controversial same-sex "marriage" court ruling.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Daschle, D-S.D., said he supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law in 1996 and gives states the option of not recognizing another state's same-sex "marriages." But he said he sees no need for further federal action, such as passing a constitutional amendment protecting the traditional definition of marriage.

"The Defense of Marriage Act deals with federal law," Daschle said. "States, of course, have the right to make their own decision with regard to how they're going to look at marriage. I oppose gay marriage. I support the Defense of Marriage Act. But I also oppose a constitutional amendment. I think it's not necessary."

The highest court in Massachusetts legalized same-sex "marriage" Nov. 18 but set aside its own ruling for 180 days to give the state legislature time to take action.

Meanwhile, two new state polls show that a plurality of Massachusetts adults support the ruling. A Boston Globe poll of 400 adults shows that Massachusetts citizens back the ruling by a 50-38 margin. A Boston Sunday Herald poll of 405 registered voters has the margin of support at 49-38. Both polls were released Nov. 23.

The polls buck the national trend. A new Time/CNN poll of 1,507 adults shows that 62 percent of Americans oppose same-sex "marriage," while 32 percent support it. Republicans oppose it by a 76-18 margin, Democrats 59-38.

In the Time/CNN poll a majority of adults, 53 percent, also said they would favor amending their respective state's constitution if a court there legalized same-sex "marriage." Massachusetts legislatures are considering several options, including amending the state's constitution. Forty percent said they would oppose such an action. The poll was conducted Nov. 18-19.

A U.S. constitutional amendment, the Federal Marriage Amendment, has been introduced in the House of Representatives and has more than 100 cosponsors. It would add language to the Constitution protecting the traditional definition of marriage.

Other Sunday morning talk shows also tackled the issue of same-sex "marriage" Nov. 23. Following are some of the highlights:

-- Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said on "FOX News Sunday" that he wouldn't support a constitutional amendment even if a court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.

"[T]his is going to be an incredibly difficult thing for America to grapple with, and we're going to go through a process here that is necessary for this nation in terms of how we deal with the rights and the recognition of gay unions," he said, according to a transcript. "And I don't think that gets settled by a constitutional amendment. It makes it more divisive."

Appearing on the same program, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said he would support a constitutional amendment but doubted the Senate would pass it.

There are two methods to pass a constitutional amendment. The typical method is by passage of two-thirds of both the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states. The second method, which has never been used, allows two-thirds of the states to call a constitutional convention and requires three-fourths of the states to pass the proposed amendment. The latter method bypasses the U.S. House and Senate.

-- Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark reiterated his opposition to a constitutional amendment on CBS' "Face the Nation." Asked if he favors same-sex "marriage," Clark did not give a direct answer but said he welcomed the Massachusetts court decision. He also said he favors civil unions.

"I think that's an issue both for the churches and ... synagogues and others to consider, and the state legislatures," he said, according to a transcript. "So what I believe we have to do is we have to have protection under law with the same rights under law.

"Whether a church wants to recognize it as a marriage, whether a state government wants to say that this can be called a quote, 'marriage' or not, well, those are terms that the governments and the churches should use, but in terms of equal protection under law, I think the case is clear and that's why I welcome the decision of the state supreme court."

-- Participating on a panel discussion on ABC's "This Week," conservative columnist George Will asked three panelists why polygamy should be banned in light of the Massachusetts decision and the U.S. Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision that overturned anti-sodomy laws.

"Give me a principle -- not arbitrary reasoning -- for banning polygamy," he said.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an open homosexual said: "Some distinctions are hard to draw. But the difference between two people and three people is almost always clear. It is responsible for a society to say, 'Look, you can do what you want personally. If three people want to have sex together, that's not against the law. But when it comes to being married and institutionalizing these legal relationships with regards to the ownership of property and children, then we believe a three-way operation is likely to cause difficulty, friction with the children.'"

Another open homosexual, columnist Andrew Sullivan, said, "I don't want the right to marry anyone. I just want the right to marry someone. Currently, gay men and lesbians in this country have no right to marry anyone."

Will was not satisfied with the answers.

"My question is not about individual desires; it is about the logic of this argument," he said.

Interestingly, Will said he is opposed to a constitutional amendment and believes that Massachusetts should be used as an experiment to see if same-sex "marriage" will work.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., a cosponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, also appeared on the program.

"We have four judges -- judicial activism is quite a problem in this nation right now -- deciding what the definition of marriage will be," she said.

If a constitutional amendment is not passed, then courts will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, she warned.


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