The House of Representatives yesterday failed to garner the requisite 2/3 majority to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. After the vote House conservatives held a press conference with an upbeat message: they will keep trying.
Dana Milbank, in an otherwise miserably snarky and sanctimonious column quotes Mike Pence:
By election-year calculations, that was a victory. “I view today’s vote as a successful failure,” Pence announced at a defeat rally after the vote.
More from the Washington Times:
“Be assured that this issue is not over,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. “We will continue to send a message to the American people that preserving and protecting marriage is a priority.”
In September 2004, the measure failed 227-186 in the House. It needed 290 to pass. The Senate rejected the amendment on a 49-48 procedural vote last month.
Republican leaders pushed the issue as part of a focus on values, putting lawmakers on record four months before the midterm elections. Supporters say it would protect families from what they call “activist judges.”
“We will be tenacious because we believe that marriage is worth standing for,” said Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican, who sponsored the measure. “When you can make marriage mean anything, eventually it will mean nothing, to the detriment of society.”
Back to the Milbank column for a moment. Despite the fact that it is a pathetic missive written by a “journalist” with a clear anti-values bias, it echoes the criticism that is inevitable:
Democrats and a couple of sympathetic Republicans wondered whether, with the House planning to spend just five more weeks in session for the rest of the year, their colleagues were fiddling while Beirut burns.
“We have a conflagration in the Middle East, we have raised the debt ceiling four times to $9 trillion, and this is how the Republican congressional leadership chooses to spend its time?” demanded an agitated Rep. James Moran (D-Va.)…
Milbank goes on to actually make an astute observation:
…so much of the legislative agenda this year is about making points, not policy. The Senate yesterday passed legislation to expand embryonic stem-cell research, even thought it faces a presidential veto. While the House was debating marriage yesterday, a Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing titled “Should We Embrace the Senate’s Grant of Amnesty to Millions of Illegal Aliens and Repeat the Mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?” Tomorrow, the House takes up legislation to protect the Pledge of Allegiance.
Again, I wrote about this yesterday and don’t want to harp too much on it. But it does seem that the floor schedules in the House and Senate this year so easily lend themselves to this criticism. Skeptical observers will always say “there they go again…checking the box.”
My Heritage Foundation colleague Mike Franc today commented in a Bloomberg article about the scheduling of these issues that are not likely to become law:
Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, a public policy research group in Washington, said the long odds against the provisions becoming law make it questionable the effort will pay off at the ballot box.
“Some of these songs have been played and played and played over and over again, and now it’s getting pretty stale,'’ Franc said.
In no way am I trying to diminish the importance of the marriage issue. I believe it is a central debate that we must have and that to a large degree the future health and vitality of our culture depends on the outcome of the debate. But timing and optics are terrible right now because it adds another arrow to the quiver of opponents of marriage.
UPDATE: Patrick Hynes dismisses the blatant political attacks from the likes of Jim Moran and others but notes:
The problem for Republicans, as I see it, is that twenty months have passed since that fateful 2004 election, dominated by moral values voters as it was, and Republicans are just now sitting down to work on moral values issues. This certainly gives credence to the idea that the GOP is a party of much pandering and little accomplishment.