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The Senate began debating the Federal Marriage Amendment after rushing it past the Senate Judiciary hearings without a complete customary review and despite the pervasive understanding that there aren’t enough votes to pass the measure. With this lack of support juxtaposed to the hysterical urgency the issue has been given, the amendment has been accused of being a political ploy.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was a "phony argument" to accuse the GOP of bringing the issue to a vote to make an election-year statement. Hatch then accused Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of holding inconsistent positions on marriage.

"This is the grand flip-flop; one of the grandest of all times," he said. "A person's head starts to spin trying to undo the logical mess."

In typical fashion, the right seems determined to use logical fallacies to attack Kerry. In this case by asserting if Kerry believes marriage should be between a man and a woman he must therefore support an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage, and if he does not, he's flip-flopping.

The president has already endorsed an amendment. He has nothing to lose by this and as the thinking behind the alleged political ploy goes, he has plenty to gain. Given Senator Hatch's pronouncements, it seems obvious the Bush campaign will likely use the same argument to attack Kerry and Edwards. They will use it to portray the "values" of the Bush/Cheney ticket. They can force Democrats into potential political vulnerability by how they vote on the measure. Best of all, it is a grand emotionally charged and divisive non-issue to distract us from the more pressing issues of the economy, healthcare, education, Iraq and homeland security.

According to the National Annenberg Election Survey, gay marriage is not a pivotal issue in the election and is unlikely to effect swing voters. Regardless, another study (pdf) shows that 50% of Americans oppose an amendment banning same-sex marriage while 42% support it - despite a larger percentage of Americans opposing state legislation that would permit same-sex marriage. Neither statistic shows a strong majority or a clear mandate yet the FMA was allowed to bypass traditional review and rushed to a vote.

Without "one unified voice" from either the nation or the Senate, without proper review, and oblivious to the existence of the Defense of Marriage Act, advocates of the FMA are nonetheless hand-waving and proclaiming the end of civilization unless we act now. (Meanwhile, the Senate findings on the administration's alleged role in manipulating CIA data in it's push for invading Iraq is held back until after the election.)

Hopefully, the American public can recognize these melodramatic theatrics as the thinly veiled political ploy it really is. Maybe swing voters won't be swayed by the issue of same-sex marriage but they might be swayed by yet another GOP smoke screen.

Posted by Joseph Briggs at July 12, 2004 11:34 PM