NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Now that the Federal Marriage Amendment has lost on a procedural vote in the Senate, could it play a role in Senate races this fall?
Republican candidate John Thune hopes so. An amendment supporter, Thune is running in South Dakota to unseat Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who opposes the marriage amendment and voted to block it from receiving a vote July 14.
Thune is making sure South Dakotans — known for their conservatism — know where he stands. Even before the Senate vote, he ran radio ads supporting a marriage amendment. After the vote, he released a statement criticizing Daschle.
“It is just a matter of time before South Dakota’s marriage laws are at risk of being overturned by activist liberal judges urged on by extremist special interests who want to legalize gay marriage,” Thune said in the statement. “… Tom Daschle failed the vast majority of South Dakotans who oppose gay marriage.”
Although 16 senators who voted to block the amendment face re-election, only a handful of them are in serious danger of losing. An additional four senators who voted to block the amendment are retiring.
Nevertheless, marriage amendment supporters have a chance to make gains this fall. They’re certain to make gains in South Carolina, where both the Republican and Democratic candidates support the marriage amendment. Retiring Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings doesn’t.
They likely also will make gains in Louisiana, where the two leading Democrats support the amendment, as does the Republican candidate. Retiring Democratic Sen. John Breaux opposes it.
But amendment supports could lose a supporter in Illinois, where Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, a marriage amendment backer, is retiring. The Democratic nominee is Barack Obama, who opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment and has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest homosexual activist group.
Republicans in Illinois have yet to find a candidate to replace Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race in June over a controversy regarding his divorce records.
Daschle’s seat in South Dakota is among nine Senate races that previously have been listed as “toss-ups” by The Cook Political Report and National Journal.
Following is a list of where candidates in these toss-up races stand on the marriage amendment:
GEORGIA –- Democrat Zell Miller, who supports the marriage amendment, is retiring.
A handful of Democrats are running in the primary, although only one –- businessman Cliff Oxford — supports a marriage amendment. Oxford, though, wants to see the amendment deal solely with marriage and leave the issue of civil unions untouched.
All three candidates in the Republican primary support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
The primary is July 20.
SOUTH CAROLINA — Democrat Ernest Hollings, who opposes the marriage amendment, is retiring.
The two candidates in the race to replace Hollings — Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and Republican Jim DeMint — say they support the marriage amendment, according to The State newspaper. DeMint, a U.S. representative, is a House sponsor of the amendment.
FLORIDA — Democrat Bob Graham, who opposes the marriage amendment, is retiring.
All of the Democratic candidates oppose the amendment, according to the Associated Press.
The two leading Republicans — Mel Martinez and Bill McCollum — support the amendment. Another Republican, Doug Gallagher, who was in third place in one poll, said he would vote for the amendment but believes other issues are more important, AP reported.
The primary is Aug. 31.
OKLAHOMA — Republican Don Nickles, who supports the marriage amendment, is retiring.
U.S. Rep. Brad Carson, who some view as the leading Democratic candidate, supports the amendment, but has yet to sign on as a co-sponsor in the House.
In the Republican field, the three leading candidates support the amendment.
The primary is July 27.
COLORADO — Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who opposes the marriage amendment, is retiring.
The two candidates in the Republican primary, former Rep. Bob Schaffer and brewery businessman Peter Coors, support the marriage amendment.
Both candidates in the Democratic primary, Ken Salazar and Mike Miles, oppose the amendment.
The primary is Aug. 10.
NORTH CAROLINA — Democrat John Edwards, who opposes the marriage amendment and is John Kerry’s running-mate, is retiring.
The lone Democratic candidate is former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles. A spokeswoman for Bowles told The Charlotte Observer that Bowles would vote against the amendment as long as current laws against same-sex “marriage” have not been overturned by courts.
Bowles’ likely Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, supports the amendment and is a House co-sponsor.
The primary is July 20.
ALASKA — Republican Lisa Murkowski, who supports the marriage amendment, is up for election.
Murkowski’s opponent in the primary, Mike Miller, also supports the marriage amendment and has criticized Murkowski for not taking a position on the amendment sooner.
The Anchorage Daily News reported July 15 that prior to Senate debate Murkowski had been telling constituents in letters that the issue of same-sex “marriage” should be left to the states. Miller’s campaign says he is a “trusted conservative.”
Former Gov. Tony Knowles, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, opposes the marriage amendment.
The primary is Aug. 24.
LOUISIANA — Democrat John Breaux, who opposes the marriage amendment, is retiring.
U.S. Rep. John Vitter, a Republican candidate, supports the marriage amendment and is a House co-sponsor.
In the Democratic field, U.S. Rep Chris John and former state treasurer John Kennedy support the marriage amendment, according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Another Democratic candidate, Arthur Morrell, opposes it.
Louisiana’s unique system has no primary, and instead all candidates — Democrats and Republicans — run in the Nov. 2 general election. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two vote-getters face each other in a runoff.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit