Gay marriage politics

Robert Novak
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Posted: Aug 21, 2004 12:00 AM

 WASHINGTON -- The social conservative Family Research Council, lobbying for a platform plank backing a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, is attempting to put a new anti-gay marriage book into the hands of all 4,500 delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention in New York.

 "Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage" is written by Peter Sprigg, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family Studies. About 60 percent of the hotels housing delegates have agreed to help distribute the book.

 Although the anti-gay marriage amendment has been endorsed by President Bush, many moderate Republicans are not happy about that. It is reported to be in the early platform draft, and social conservatives want to make sure that remains the case.

FOREIGN ELECTION MONITORS

 Republican members of Congress are furious with Secretary of State Colin Powell for inviting international observers to monitor November's presidential election despite a House-passed bill, pending in the Senate, that would prohibit public funds for such purposes.

 Republican Rep. David Vitter has written Powell a letter of protest. Vitter, running for the Senate from Louisiana, called on State to "rescind the invitation" and "devote its time to diplomacy and pressing events overseas, rather than playing some role in domestic political events."

 Following the 2000 Florida recount, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent 10 observers to the 2002 Florida elections and two observers to the 2003 California recall. The Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats have demanded foreign monitoring of this year's voting.

UNHAPPY EUROPEANS

 European conservatives and libertarians are complaining that they had a much easier time getting credentials for the Democratic National Convention in Boston than for the upcoming Republican meeting in New York.

 An official of Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP), which advocates free market policies, has been unable to gain access to Madison Square Garden for the GOP convention. He told this column the Democrats were easy to deal with, and the FDP had representatives at the FleetCenter in Boston.

 With Europeans aligned for John Kerry against George W. Bush, it would seem logical for Republicans to give special attention to the Continent's conservatives. However, the conservatives complain nobody at the Republican National Committee even knows who would handle their access to the convention hall.

GUNS IN D.C.

 Conservative Republican members of Congress are pressing for a House floor debate Sept. 13 on a bill to overturn the District of Columbia's ban on all firearms in the nation's capital.

 Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, representing the conservative Republican Study Committee, has written House Speaker Dennis Hastert asking for the vote. Sept. 13 is the date when the federal ban on assault weapons expires because Republican leaders don't plan to bring it up in the House.

 The D.C. gun bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, has 226 co-sponsors (including more than 20 Democrats) out of the 435 House members. The Senate companion measure, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, has 33 co-sponsors (including Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid and two other Democrats) out of 100 senators

TEAMSTERS POWER

 The Teamsters Union demonstrated its political clout in the Missouri Democratic primary by working on the unprecedented defeat for renomination of Gov. Bob Holden, who was strongly supported by most of organized labor.

 The Teamsters backed State Auditor Claire McCaskill because Holden failed to support the union on one of President Jim Hoffa's major projects: Mexican long-distance trucking. Quite apart from Missouri politics, the nationwide lesson for Democrats was that they can get on the wrong side of the Teamsters only at their peril.

 Republicans would have much preferred the unpopular Holden over McCaskill to run against their candidate for governor, Secretary of State Matt Blunt. Now that the Teamsters' flirtation with the Republicans is finished, they will strongly oppose Blunt in the general election campaign.