MARRIAGE DIGEST: John Edwards says ‘gay marriage’ issue is ‘personal struggle’; Kolbe, now retired, speaks out; ...

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (BP)--Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards apparently remains opposed to "gay marriage," although he says he personally struggles with the issue and believes America may one day support it.

The former U.S. senator from North Carolina told a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., Dec. 29 that "gay marriage" is the "single hardest social issue for me personally" and that he has "great conflict" internally over it.

"Most of the [other social issues] I don't have a lot of personal struggle with," he said. "I have a lot of personal struggle with this one.... It's very easy for me to say, civil unions? Yes. Partnership benefits? Yes.... It's a jump for me to get to gay marriage, and I haven't yet gotten across that bridge. But it is something I struggle with."

He added, "I wish I knew the right answer, because I think some of it has to do with the time in history that we're in."

Edwards said his daughter and her friends, in their 20s, "believe that this issue will completely disappear with their generation." With some in the crowd already applauding, Edwards added, "And they could be right about that."

Edwards, the 2004 Democratic nominee for vice president, is among a handful of Democrats believed to be considering a run for the White House in 2008. One of those, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), has said he opposes "gay marriage" but also opposes the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that allows states to refuse to recognize another state's "gay marriages." Another possible Democratic candidate, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said last fall that she supports DOMA but that her advocacy on homosexual issues "has certainly evolved."

KOLBE SPEAKS OUT -- For a decade, U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona was the lone openly homosexual Republican in Congress. Now that he's leaving -- he didn't seek re-election last year -- he's speaking out. He told the Tucson Citizen in an interview published Dec. 29 that he believes the United States eventually will legalize "gay marriage."

"As much as the social conservatives might not like to hear it, there will be a time when your grandchildren say: 'What was the argument with gay marriage? Who cares?'" he told the newspaper.

Republicans have relied too much on social conservatives, he said, and have focused too much on issues such as abortion, embryonic stem cell research and "gay marriage."

"It's a terrible mistake," Kolbe said. "It takes the party in the wrong direction. It takes us away from our core element and our core values: fiscal discipline and a strong defense."

Conservative leaders, though, assert social conservatives played a key role in the re-election of President Bush in the 2004 and in Republicans gaining Congress in 1994.

Massachusetts remains the lone state to recognize "gay marriage." Since it became legal there in 2004, 23 states have adopted constitutional marriage amendments, bringing to 27 the number of states nationwide that have them.

COURT DECISION SIGNIFICANT -- When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled Dec. 27 that legislators had a "constitutional duty" to vote either up-or-down on a proposed constitutional marriage amendment, no one knew exactly what impact the ruling would have. In hindsight, the decision was significant.

The ruling came just days before legislators were scheduled to vote Jan. 2 on the amendment, which opponents hoped to kill by adjourning without giving it an up-or-down vote. Adjournment on Jan. 2, the final day of the session, would have doomed the proposal. But instead, legislators allowed a vote, and the amendment received 62 votes, 12 more than required. It now must pass once more in the next session if it is to make the 2008 ballot.

It was the same court that more than three years ago issued its decision legalizing "gay marriage," sparking a nationwide backlash.

"The S.J.C. decision really tipped the scales against us," Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus said, according to The New York Times.

It was the fourth time in recent months legislators had met in a constitutional convention. In the previous three instances, legislators used parliamentary maneuvers to recess without allowing a vote.


For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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