Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet Column: Inside the gay marriage debate. (Obama-Colbert post 5 down)


A proposed federal gay marriage ban -- debated Monday in the Senate and headed toward defeat in a Wednesday vote -- prompted this question to White House press secretary Tony Snow.

"Can you stand there and say with a straight face that there is not a political dimension to this?'' Snow was asked.

"Of course there's a political dimension to it,'' Snow said. "There's going to be a Senate vote on it, for heaven's sake.''

(today's column continued)
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), not the White House, made gay marriage the centerpiece of the agenda this week.

Frist, a 2008 presidential maybe, is pushing this hot-button issue, a rallying cry for social conservatives. Backlash over gay marriage is credited for increasing GOP turnout in the 2004 election, after judges in Massachusetts and San Francisco cleared the way for gay weddings.

Frist put the proposed amendment on the Senate schedule, though the Senate defeated the question in 2004.

But issues don't die in Congress. With mid-term elections five months away, wedge legislation is coming out of the closet.

After winning a second term, Bush put the gay-marriage amendment on the back burner, but turned up the heat in the past few days, "driven in many ways by the legislative calendar,'' Snow said.

This comes in the context of Bush's approval ratings at record lows. His conservative base is divided over soaring spending for Hurricane Katrina and his embrace of an immigration overhaul favored by Democrats.

The president made the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment the topic of his Saturday radio address. Monday, a solicitous administration invited about 150 anti-gay marriage opinion leaders to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to hear it from Bush himself.

"You are here because you strongly support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and I am proud to stand with you,'' Bush said.

The point of this exercise, which will consume the Senate through Wednesday, is to produce a roll call to be translated into political ads, Internet rants and direct mail pieces next November putting Democrats on the defensive.

The same basic politics of backlash is at work in Illinois. A coalition of conservative groups is trying to put on the November ballot a nonbinding advisory referendum urging state lawmakers to define marriage in Illinois as only between a man and a woman. The practical impact of this would be to increase GOP turnout, which is why Illinois Democrats will do everything they can to try to disqualify the question from the ballot.

Leaders usually never call a bill they know will fail. Gay marriage is one of those exceptions. In 2004, the proposed amendment received 48 of the 67 Senate votes needed to pass. Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said when the votes are counted they hoped to "show progress.''

It's wedge season.


"I've warned to skip some topics like: Newt Gingrich's first wife. Bob Dole's first wife. Phil Gramm's first wife. Dick Armey's first wife. Rush Limbaugh's first wife. Rush Limbaugh's second wife. Rush Limbaugh's third wife." --- Al Franken, 1996 White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

And since that time, Rush Limbaugh has split with his fourth wife.

And since that time, we have also become aware of Henry Hyde's "youthful indiscretion", i.e. his years-long affair with a married mother of three.

If only there had been a constitutional gay marriage ban to protect the sanctity of one of those Republican marriages.

do you ever provide a view for the other side you hack, or Rham wont let you because alot of people think he writes your colum.
Lynn Sweet reply....I think Rahm would disagree....

My father being allowed to have legal rights with my other father will NOT diminish the validity or sanctity of my marriage to my loving husband.

Briget Johnson, Woodbury, Minnesota

In a few more years, people will be saying, "If gay marriage is acceptable, why do we continue to discriminate against people who are in love with multiple other people? Why discriminate against pedophiles?" And on and on. It is already happening in other countries that have legalized gay marriage.

Just a few years ago, proposing gay marriage would have seemed just as preposterous.

Ah, the slippery slope theory!

Thomas Jefferson once said, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to.... It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

If we truly live in a free society what business is it of yours what kind of relationships your neighbor wants to enter into. As regards to pedophilia, I think the standard of consenting adults is pretty well established and that does not fit that standard so why use it other than to set up a strawman. If at some point you can demonstrate that another's relationships with consenting adults somehow either costs you money or does you personal injury then you might have an arument.

I am a straight man, happily married for more than 35 years and I have no desire to tell you how to live your life.

But that's my point. The standard today is no where near the "pretty well established" standard of yesterday that marriage = man + woman. It's not a just a theory; it is true that standards continue to lower. And we have seen where similar societies in the past have ended up as they have lowered their standards.

If consenting adults is the standard, why do you discriminate against multiple consenting adults who want to marry? It doesn't hurt you or cost you money.

What is your standard for an adult? Why do you discriminate against those who are born with a preference for "young" consenting adults? It doesn't hurt you or cost you money.

I don't believe we live in a free society. We live in a democracy that establishes laws and standards with defined consequences to preserve a prosperous and healthy society. It isn't free in the sense that you can go around and do whatever you want. All actions have a consequence, and actions with consequences on our society have laws and standards setup to protect the society.

I'm not for discriminating against gay people who choose to live together, or work, or just go about their lives. I'm for definining the standard for creating a family, the fundamental unit of society.

I live in Ariz and the discrimination here is "Mormen" drove

I do not believe we have the right to discrimate and have no problem with gay folks marrying. LIve and Let Live is my motto. I heard about Tom jefferson on the radio

As Sesame Street tells us, families come in all sizes, colors, etc. No rational person would consider passing a ban on interracial marriage, or people of different heights marrying, or banning large families or small families or single parent families. Why ban this one type of family, that consists of two consenting adults? Why deny them the legal recognition other families enjoy? It is nothing less than discrimination.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 6, 2006 8:59 AM.

Bush: On border patrol again at Laredo. Another immigration push in New Mexico. was the previous entry in this blog.

Bush: Immigration push in Omaha. Critics talk of amnesty ``to frighten people.'' is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.