MARRIAGE DIGEST: Interviewer questions Gephardt's marriage position
Posted on Dec 24, 2003 | by Michael Foust
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--In an example of how some politicians are walking a fine line on a controversial issue, Democrat presidential candidate Dick Gephardt was taken to task Dec. 21 for opposing same-sex "marriage" while criticizing President Bush for considering a marriage amendment.
The exchange occurred on "FOX News Sunday" and focused on comments Gephardt made after Bush said the country "may need" a constitutional amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Gephardt, a Missouri congressman, released a statement saying Bush should "end his alliance with bigotry."
Gephardt, though, has said repeatedly that he opposes same-sex "marriage," even though he opposes a constitutional amendment.
"But, Congressman, isn't your basic position on gay marriage and civil unions the same as the president's?" FOX News' Chris Wallace asked.
"Well, I don't think so," Gephardt responded, according to a transcript. "I'm not for the constitutional amendment. I don't think we ought to clutter up the Constitution with taking something away. We've got lots of problems in this country, but you can't just run to the Constitution every time you think something needs to be changed."
He added that he favors Vermont-type civil unions and would like to see the federal government "conform" to the laws of states where such unions are legal.
"But that's precisely what the president said," Wallace said. "He said he was for whatever legal arrangements people want to make that are up to the states. So, in fact, on opposing gay marriage and leaving civil unions up to the state, aren't you in the same position the president is?"
"Well," Gephardt answered, "the president's also said that he wants this constitutional amendment, and I don't agree with that. I don't think that's we ought to do. I think we need to pass an anti-discrimination law, which we've been trying to get a vote on in the Congress for some time. We need to pass hate-crimes legislation. And we need to conform federal law to civil union laws, if that's what states do."
While Bush has implied he would leave the issue of civil unions up to the states, he has not said whether he would go as far as Gephardt would by recognizing a state's civil unions laws.
Four polls this year have showed solid support for a constitutional marriage amendment, with backing ranging from 54-58 percent. A New York Times/CBS News poll had support at 55 percent, including 52 percent of Democrats.
Interestingly, Gephardt also was asked about his support during the 1980s for an amendment banning abortion. Once pro-life, he is now pro-choice.
"Well, I was wrong then," he said. "Those were suggestions that shouldn't have been taken. And I don't think now that we ought to do this constitutional amendment on gay marriage. I think it's not the right thing to do with the Constitution.
"You know, as we go through life, we all learn. I grew up in a Baptist home where I came to certain beliefs. Over time, I listened to a lot of people and changed my view, and that's what I believe today."
IOWA JUDGE SPEAKS -- Iowa district Judge Jeffrey Neary, who granted a "divorce" to two homosexual women, told an Iowa newspaper he was looking to resolve a legal issue and did not "have any agenda." The two women had joined together in a civil union in Vermont, although such contracts are not recognized in Iowa.
The Iowa Liberty and Justice Center has filed suit with the Iowa Supreme Court, arguing that Neary's action violates the state's Defense of Marriage Act.
"If the Supreme Court says I was wrong, that will clarify it for all of us judges," Neary told the Le Mars Daily Sentinel newspaper.
But Neary indicated he believes his action was constitutional under the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause. That argument is at the heart of conservatives' fears on the subject of same-sex "marriage." They fear that a federal court eventually will strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act by saying the full faith and credit clause requires all states to recognize another state's same-sex "marriages."
As of now, the federal Defense of Marriage Act protects states from an individual state such as Massachusetts.
"The full faith and credit provision, as I understand it, has no exceptions," Neary said. "... If the [Iowa] Supreme Court says I'm right and says we have to give full faith and credit to this Vermont issue, that, too, sets precedent.
"... All that ran through my mind was I was giving the Vermont law full faith and credit," he said.
BADGER STATE OPPPOSED -- By 2-1 margins, Wisconsin adults oppose legalizing same-sex "marriage" and favor a state constitutional amendment on the issue, a new poll shows.
The Badger Poll of 510 residents found that residents oppose legalizing same-sex "marriage" by a margin of 62-30 percent and favor passing a state marriage amendment by a 64-29 margin. Additionally, Wisconsin residents oppose legalizing civil unions by a 48-44 margin.
The poll is significant because in November Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, vetoed a Defense of Marriage Act that would have banned same-sex "marriage" within the state. Wisconsin is one of only 13 states without such a protection. Doyle said the bill was mean-spirited.
The poll also found that by a 58-35 margin residents favor a federal constitutional marriage amendment.
AMENDMENT IN MISSOURI? - State legislators in Missouri have hopes of putting the issue of a state constitutional amendment before voters in November, according to the Daily American Republic newspaper in Poplar Bluff.
Three members of the Missouri House of Representatives made the announcement at a Dec. 19 news conference.
"Last month the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the legislature must pass a law allowing same-sex marriages, and these representatives want to leave no doubt in the minds of Missouri courts where the people they represent stand," Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton said, according to the newspaper.
While Missouri law states that marriage is only between a man and a woman, a constitutional amendment would protect Missouri from a state court ruling similar to the one in Massachusetts.