On Monday, President Bush will once again throw his support behind a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, just before the Tuesday Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA).
The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.
It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — says he will vote for it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment on May 18 along party lines after a shouting match between a Democrat and the chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa. He bid Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., "good riddance" after Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment and his intention to leave the meeting.
Gay marriage is likely to be one of the hot button issues in the 2008 presidential campaign. Courtesy of the NBC News' “First Read” here is a listing of where the 2008 presidential candidates stand on gay marriage and civil unions. Including, where applicable, how they voted on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which states that "marriage" can only be between one man and one woman and also whether they voted for or against continuing debate on the MPA back in 2004:
Bayh: Opposes gay marriage, but said last month that he will not support the amendment in a vote and believes that the Constitution should only be amended when "absolutely necessary." In 2004, a Bayh spokesperson said that if the "Supreme Court ever strikes down the state or national laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, then he believes that a constitutional amendment should be considered." Voted against the MPA.
Biden: Has said he's against the amendment because it calls for revising the Constitution, which he does not support. In 2003, said he supports offering gay couples benefits and that a constitutional amendment addressing the issue would only make it more "divisive." Voted for DOMA and against the MPA.
Clinton: Opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions. Has said she supports "giving people the right to enter into recognized relationships, that whether you call him civil unions or domestic partnerships, enable them to own property, to have hospital visitation. To me, that's a human rights issue." In 2004, told NBC's Tim Russert that the "Republican platform" to deny benefits "for people who are in committed relationships" was "appalling." Voted against the MPA.
Edwards: Opposes gay marriage and thinks that any attempt to alter the Constitution would "divide this country." Missed vote on the MPA.
Feingold: Supports gay marriage and has called the bill "an extreme and unnecessary reaction." "Enshrining discrimination in our state's constitution is, frankly, an outrage," Feingold said at a recent fundraiser. Made headlines last month when he got into a spat with Sen. Arlen Specter (R) as the two discussed the bill in committee. Voted against DOMA and against the MPA.
Kerry: Opposes gay marriage but supports "[domestic] partnerships and civil unions" and is opposed to any federal constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage because he thinks the decision should be left up to individual states. Voted against DOMA and missed the vote on the MPA.
Richardson: Opposes same-sex marriage but doesn't support a constitutional amendment banning it. In 2004, said that it's a mistake to change "the Constitution on an issue like this that should be left up the states."
Warner: Opposes gay marriage and civil unions.
Vilsack: Has said he would sign a law allowing civil unions between same-sex couples if presented to him. "My view is the state ought to pretty much stay out of the church's business," he said in February. "I think there is a religious connotation to marriage that needs to be respected and understood... 'I don't think you necessarily have to redefine marriage to do it. A civil union set of rights would honor that... Marriage is already defined, and we don't need to change it."
Allen: Opposes same-sex marriage and has said through a spokesperson that he would only support a constitutional amendment if it's "absolutely necessary." Otherwise, feels that DOMA is sufficient. Voted for the MPA.
Brownback: Was instrumental in pushing the MPA through the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, which he heads. "None of us takes amending the Constitution lightly," he said in November. "The plain fact is this amendment has been exhaustively studied and it really is time to act... We are deluding ourselves if we think these ongoing challenges... will not bear fruit." Voted for the MPA.
Frist: Opposes gay marriage and feels a constitutional amendment is necessary because marriage is "under attack" by "activist judges." Announced in February that he would introduce the MPA in the Senate on June 5. In a statement last week, said that the "American people deserve a full debate on this foundational issue before marriage is redefined for everyone" and said he wants to "ensure the definition of marriage endures and remains true to the wishes of the majority of the American people." Voted for DOMA and for the MPA.
Hagel: Opposes gay marriage but does not support amending the Constitution to ban it, and thinks the decision should be left up to the states. "Every American should be hesitant to let the federal government take rights away from the states," Hagel wrote in a 2004 statement. "If court decisions take away the ability of states to govern the issue of same sex marriage, we may need to address the issue through a constitutional amendment one day, but not today," he said. "Amending the constitution, the founding document of our nation, should always be a final option, not a first." Last month when a district judge ruled that a Nebraska law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, Hagel said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision. Voted for the MPA.
Huckabee: Said in 2004 that allowing gay marriages is allowing "lawlessness." "That's my major concern, that we've just got a whole bunch of folks out there that want to make up their own laws," he said. Later that year, said marriage "cannot be redefined to be something that culture wants it to be."
McCain: Said last week that he is against same-sex marriages but would vote against the amendment because he believes states should decide whether to allow them. "I believe in the sanctity of heterosexual marriage," McCain said. But, "the people of Arizona, I hope, would decide that a union between man and woman has a unique status." Voted for DOMA and against the MPA.
Pataki: Opposes gay marriage. When one local mayor began marrying gay couples in 2004, Pataki told reporters, "I've always believed that marriage in New York is between a man and a woman. That's the way it's been for 200 years."
Romney: Most recently, has said he opposes both gay marriages and civil unions. Last August, told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that "if you indicate as a society that you're indifferent between a same-sex couple marrying and a heterosexual couple marrying, then it means our schools and other institutions are going to have to indicate that there... is no difference whatsoever, and that obviously has societal consequences that are important."
President Bush is mistaken if he thinks promoting the Marriage Protection Amendment will regain the the conservative support he has lost over immigration reform.