Wednesday, July 14, 2004

All Signs Point to "Maybe"

Well, the FMA has been delayed for now by the failure to pass cloture in the Senate. I've been trying to fully understand the ramifications of the vote. At one point I heard that Republicans were actually filibustering their own bill, trying to buy time to raise more "yes" votes. Some politicians felt this would actually work against them, losing more votes, so it seems Republicans moved for an end of discussion, or cloture.

The failure to pass cloture means that debate can continue indefinitely on the bill, although C-SPAN notes that it means the bill is usually just set aside. So, many are calling this a victory. Certainly from the perspective that 50 "Nay" votes is 19 less votes than needed to pass a full amendment in the Senate, we have a victory. However, this was a procedural vote largely. So, in some respects, it was easy to vote against ending discussion. Legislators can easily still say they oppose the amendment, but feel like more discussion is needed before passing a Constitutional Amendment.

I feel somewhat badly because I only tried twice to contact my Senators and when the lines were busy did not try again. I feel less bad because my two Senators are Elizabeth Dole and John Edwards. Libby (R - in case you're living under a rock) was not going to be swayed. I understand why Bob needs viagra with her around the house. And, John, well John didn't vote. Neither did Kerry.

According to the Washington Post the two of them would have voted if they were needed, but with a clear win apparent, they abstained. This doesn't cut it with me. They just didn't want to be seen taking a stand for political reasons. And so they avoided the bullet. Still, they're better than the alternative, Mr. "I'm disappointed, but keep on bashin' those gays" Bush.

On a side note, both Senators from my previous home state of Georgia voted to invoke cloture, presumably in favor of the amendment. If I were still there, I would actively campaign to get Zell Miller, the Democratic Senator, out of office as soon as I could.

And after all is said and done, wouldn't have passing cloture been a good thing? Politically it is advantageous for Senators running for re-election. They can say they don't support gay marriage, but feel like we need to think about a big step like this. But, if cloture had passed, then they could have voted and, presumably, defeated the Amendment. Am I misunderstanding this? Wouldn't this have been the true victory?

Still, I'll take it however I can get it. It's an encouraging sign, but just the start of the long haul. Things, I suspect, will get worse before they get better. Nonetheless, I'm cautiously optimistic and see this as certainly a good thing. I'm just don't see us in the winner's circle quite yet.

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