This past week the United States Senate voted down the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which is designed to place in the Constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman. Liberals in both parties voted against consideration of the issue. That is not surprising. Senate leaders knew they didn't have the votes. Some people claim that the exercise was foolish and a waste of time. But pro-family movement leaders wanted the vote because they believe that some Senators up for re-election who have defied the will of the voters might be more vulnerable because of that vote.
The President discussed the issue on his Saturday radio show. Early in the week, he had made a strong statement to a group of movement leaders and following defeat in the Senate he issued a statement indicating that the fight will continue.
There is no anecdotal evidence that the President or the Majority Whip twisted arms on this issue. Therein lays the problem with social issues. Almost all Democrats want nothing to do with social issues. When they were in control of the Congress most such issues never saw the light of day. Republicans, with a few notable exceptions, are not enthusiastic about them either. Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D., commonly known as Senator Bill Frist, was mercilessly dumped on by some of his colleagues when he announced he was bringing up the Marriage Amendment. So he must be given credit for that. And to his credit, he never, ever wavered on the issues, even when doing major Sunday news shows. The Conservative movement has too often been satisfied with rhetoric and too few times has the movement demanded action.
I mentioned this to Dr. Richard Land at the White House. Land represents the Southern Baptists at such events. "My standard is the prescription drug benefit," Land quipped. In that expansion of big government, the President and Congressional leaders twisted arms until the bill was passed. The leadership in the House, in which the measure had considerable opposition, kept the vote open for over three hours until the leadership had enough votes. The President was on the telephone with Members of the House until he got sufficient commitments to pass the drug benefit bill. I know this to be true because I have spoken with several Members who talked with President Bush on the night of the vote.
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