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Saturday, June 03, 2006

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Expect to hear a lot about it in the next ten days, what with Bush again endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment. Proponents and opponents of FMA agree on one thing: we need a national approach to this issue. Let's allow same-sex marriage across the board, say supporters. No, let's enshrine marriage as between one man/one woman in the Constitution, opponents declare. What's actually happening in this country — on the ground — is that the states are figuring out this issue individually. Voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions that affirm the traditional definition of marriage. This November, initiatives banning same-sex marriages are expected to be on the ballot in Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Supporters of same-sex marriage will press their claim that the FMA "would brand lesbian and gay men as legally inferior individuals." Same-sex marriage opponents will make sure that voters are aware of this month's issue of a national gay and lesbian newsmagazine with a cover story celebrating gay polygamy:
"We're as married as we could be," says one homosexual member of a San Diego trio, "we all have rings and have a day we celebrate [as] our anniversary."
If those become the two main sides of the debate, voters in those five states almost certainly will ban same-sex marriage. And more states will likely follow suit. For now FMA appears to be doomed, what with barely 50 senators supporting it. So as the debate continues about how to resolve the same-sex marriage conundrum, Americans will continue to resolve the issue in the states. The only real issue left is how polarized the politics of this issue will become. If activist judges continue overturning state bans, majority voters who support the bans will not be pleased, and that will only advance the cause of social conservatives in general. And so, even if FMA is defeated in coming weeks, efforts for a national solution to preserve traditional marriage will continue in future congresses. Wild card: At what point might the Supreme Court decide to step into the fray? And if they do, will the Scalia-Thomas conservatives carry the day in behalf of traditional marriage? Or will the Court work out a federalist solution by letting the states figure this out individually?