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SUMMARY: What Senators said during debate Monday

WASHINGTON (BP)–Ten senators gave speeches about the Federal Marriage Amendment July 12. Nine were Republicans, one was a Democrat.

Following is a summary of their arguments, in the order in which the senators spoke.

— Wayne Allard, R.-Colo. (for the amendment).

Allard defended the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying it prohibits same-sex “marriage” while leaving other issues — such as that of legalizing Vermont-type civil unions — up to state legislatures.

“We recognize that there is a definite role for the states,” he said. “… We allow states to move ahead through the Democratic process and to deal with issues such as civil unions and domestic partnerships….”

Allard also encouraged Democrats to debate the issue on the merits.

“I hope that we can now settle down and get a good debate from the other side about why they don’t think that marriage ought to be defined as the union of a man and a woman, or why don’t think this is a good amendment,” he said. “… I urge my colleagues from the other side to step forward and let’s hear your views.”

— Rick Santorum, R.-Pa. (for the amendment).

Santorum said he agreed with those who say that heterosexuals have already “messed up” marriage, but he said same-sex “marriage” would only make matters worse. He also said he supports tougher divorce laws.

“I would make the claim that further diluting … marriage is not the answer, because we know of the dire consequences that breakdown in marriage results in with respect to children,” he said.

Cultures that have embraced same-sex unions — such as Scandinavian countries — have seen an increase in out-of-wedlock birthrates, Santorum said.

“[In those countries] marriage is not important,” he said. “It has no meaning. And so people simply don’t get married.”

If there were a solution short of a constitutional amendment, he would favor it, Santorum said. But an amendment is the only solution, he added.

Santorum joked that “to create new rights under the Constitution, you have to have two-thirds of the Senate, two-thirds of the House and three-quarters of the state legislatures” or simply the support of “four judges in Massachusetts.”

“I never saw that four judges in Massachusetts clause, but that’s what [is going] on,” he said.

— Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif. (against the amendment).

Feinstein called the debate “a waste of time,” saying that the amendment does not have the votes. She said it was politically driven.

“Family law has always [been] relegated to the states,” she said. “This essentially would be the first departure from that.”

Feinstein said that 38 states have passed Defense of Marriage Acts, and other states, such as Michigan, have seen citizens gather petitions to strengthen their marriage laws.

“Interference from Washington in this political process, I believe, is premature, unnecessary and not in the context of a Constitution of the United States,” she said.

She said Republicans were pushing the amendment as a “wedge issue” during an election year.

— Orrin Hatch, R.-Utah (for the amendment).

Answering Sen. Diane Feinstein, who said the issue should be left to the states, Hatch said, “Frankly, I agree that the states should be able to decide these issues.” But Hatch said that courts — such as the one in Massachusetts — have prevented it from being a states rights issue.

Hatch quoted polls showing that Americans oppose same-sex “marriage” by margins of 2-to-1. He also noted that nearly 1.5 million signatures in support of an amendment were submitted to the Senate by pro-family groups.

An amendment, Hatch said, would empower the states because it would require three-fourths of them to ratify it.

“If we pass a constitutional amendment, it will be up the states whether or not that constitutional amendment will be ratified or not,” he said.

Hatch again criticized Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards.

“They both believe that traditional marriage ought to be maintained, but they don’t believe we should do anything about it if it isn’t,” Hatch said. “Well, I hope we can change their minds.”

— Jim Bunning, R.-Ky. (for the amendment).

Bunning called the amendment the “most important” issue the body has debated since he’s been a member.

“Our nation faces a potential disaster, and I hope my colleagues in the Senate realize that we have a responsibility to affirm the ideal of marriage and protect one of the most basic building blocks of our society — the family,” he said.

Without an amendment, Bunning said, courts will overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional.

“Those of us who defend traditional marriage were not looking for this struggle, but it has been forced upon us, and I feel we must do what we can to prevail.

Traditional marriage, Bunning said, historically has been tied to the procreation of children.

“Only a man and a woman have the ability to create children,” he said. “It’s the law of nature. And no matter how much some might not like it or want to change it or push for technology to replace it, this law is irrefutable.”

— Jon Kyl, R.-Ariz. (for the amendment).

Kyl said traditional marriage is the best environment for raising children and that the nation should support that ideal.

“If we want our nation’s children to do well, we need to do what we can to ensure that they grow up with mothers and fathers, so we need to protect the place where mothers and fathers properly unite — marriage,” Kyl said.

Kyl said that activists would file lawsuits until same-sex “marriage” is nationalized. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court seeking to overturn DOMA, Kyl noted.

“As these lawsuits progress, it will be the courts, not the people, who make the decisions on whether same-sex marriage will spread throughout the entire nation,” he said.

— Jeff Sessions, R.-Ala. (for the amendment)

Answering charges that the amendment is politically driven, Sessions said that senators “didn’t start this debate. … it was the courts who did so.”

Sessions added that the issue should not be left to the courts. He said he has little confidence in the Supreme Court and he criticized it for having quoted European law is recent decisions.

“The Supreme Court of the United States, in my view, is seriously drifting from its principles,” Sessions said

— John Cornyn, R.-Texas (for the amendment).

Cornyn said the national debate over the definition of marriage is “a good thing.”

“Those of us on the side of traditional marriage must not flinch and we should not back down and we should not allow people to paint our motivations as hateful or hurtful, because, indeed, they are not,” he said.

Same-sex “marriage” is now a “federal threat,” Cornyn said.

“The institution of marriage is just too important to leave to lawyers and lawsuits and to chance,” he said. “… We can be confident in the fact that a constitutional amendment is the most representative process we have in American law.”

— Trent Lott, R.-Miss (for the amendment).

Responding to those who argue that marriage does not rise to the level of amending the Constitution, Lott pointed to the most recent amendment to the Constitution — the 27th amendment — that deals with congressional pay.

“I bet you that if you ask American people, ‘List 10 things that you think the Constitution should perhaps be amendment for,’ that would not be one of the top 10.'”

Lott said the Constitution is a “sacred” document and that “amendments” should be rare.

“But there are occasions where when we should consider the process,” he said.

— Sam Brownback, R.-Kan. (for the amendment).

Brownback said the debate over the definition of marriage is not a “battle over civil rights”

“This is a critical battle, and we are at a critical stage in the culture of the United States,” he said. “And what happens on this particular issue will have a profound impact on the future of the United States of America.”

The Defense of Marriage Act is “not enough” and likely will be overturned in federal court, Brownback. If DOMA is ruled unconstitutional, then the same-sex “marriages” in Massachusetts will be recognized everywhere, he said.

“If the movement for civil unions and same-sex marriage succeeds, we may well be dealing a fatal blow to an already vulnerable institution,” Brownback said. “It is possible to lose the institution of marriage in America, and that is precisely the hidden agenda of many in this cultural battle.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust