Senate Gay Marriage Ban Underperforms
Predictably, the Republican brought up the FMA again as the midterm election draws near, in a blatant scheme to try and motivate their base while accomplishing nothing. Also predictably, it failed. But I was a bit surprised to discover that they got less votes than I expected. The FMA failed again this time with 49 votes for and 48 votes against. Republican Chuck Hagel (NE), who would have been in favor, and Democrats Chris Dodd (CT) and Jay Rockefeller (WV), who would have been opposed, did not vote. If all Senators had voted, it would have been 50-50, 2 short of expected. Why? Because Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- who I swear flips a coin to decide how he votes -- and Judd Gregg (R-NH) changed their votes.
The two Democrats voting in favor of cloture were Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Byrd, incidentally, voted for cloture, but said he actually opposed the FMA itself. All 5 New England Republicans voted against cloture, as well as coin-flipping Arlen Specter, and presidential candidate John McCain. McCain will probably have a few difficulties mending fences with Falwell and friends after this, so I imagine he would have preferred not to have to deal with this issue. But I'm sure he didn't want to be labeled a flip-flopper either by changing his vote from 2004.
Folks, the Federal Marriage Amendment is dead. The only way it will ever stand a chance is if Republicans control either house of Congress when the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage. If they do, there may be enough furor among the wackos to scare Democrats into voting for an FMA-like thing. Only it will probably be worse than the FMA. That's one reason why Democratic control of Congress is important to the struggle for marriage equality.
Another is that it may be a while before we can count on the Supreme Court. It's pretty conservative already. There may be 5 votes for gay marriage there under the right circumstances, but there certainly aren't 6. I sure hope those 5 make it through to the next Democratic president, but life throws strange curveballs at us sometimes. We may sooner see Congress enact civil unions on its own than the Supreme Court allow gay marriage.