Redefining Marriage in the Garden State and Our Nation’s Capital
By Matt Smith
While the national debate’s attention is focused on terrorists on planes wearing exploding underwear and the Democrats’ closed-door health care negotiations, there has been another issue quietly moving through two other legislative bodies – redefining marriage. Voters in states like Hawaii and California have been rejecting efforts to redefine marriage during the past three election cycles. State courts have been striking down claims for same-sex marriage, leaving advocates to focus on “blue” state legislatures.
The latest is the New Jersey State Senate seeking to join Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. On Thursday, January 7, 2010, the New Jersey State Senate will likely vote on their same-sex marriage bill. In December, fearing defeat, the sponsors of the legislation withdrew it from consideration. Now the advocates for redefining marriage in the Garden State are in a frantic race to pass legislation before Governor-elect Christie, a devout Catholic, is sworn into office.
Also this week, the Washington, DC city council same-sex marriage bill that passed begins its Congressional review before the House Government Reform and Oversight Sub-Committee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia. The sub-committee, composed of seven Democrats and three Republicans, includes four Catholics William “Lacy” Clay (D, MO-01), Dennis Kucinich (D, OH-10), Gerry Connolly (D, VA-11), and Brian Bilbray (R, CA-50). With such a lop-sided advantage, advocates anticipate same-sex marriages could begin in the District of Columbia as early as February 16. Since the District is a federal territory, same-sex couples from any state will be free to travel to our nation’s capital to wed.
What is all this leading up to?
Even though the Obama Justice Department is currently defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the courts, thus angering a segment of the Democrat party, President Obama is still committed to his campaign promise to repeal DOMA. On September 15, 2009 Congressman Jerry Nadler (D, NY-08) introduced H.R. 3567 a bill “To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.” As of January 6, 2010 the legislation has 106 co-sponsors – 39 of which, over a third, are self-identified Catholics.
Advocates of same-sex marriage are working overtime to have H.R. 3567 reach the floor of the House this year and repeal a 13 year-old law previously supported by 85 percent of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. If they succeed in passing the bill, and it is signed by President Obama, 40 states will be forced to recognize same-sex marriages making the successes in Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont that much more relevant. Democrats will have learned nothing from the current health care debate or the voices of the voters in the states that have repealed gay marriage initiatives. Democrats in Congress are nearing desperation from their low-approval ratings. The base of the Democrat party dealt with a year of disappointment when campaign promises did not translate into actions. Democrats will be looking for ways to re-energize their disappointed base leading into the November 2, 2010 mid-term elections. The unfortunate casualty will be the sanctity of marriage.
Matt Smith is a consultant in Washington D.C. and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison
Catholic Co-Sponsors of H.R. 3567 a bill “To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.”
Rep. Michael Arcuri [D, NY-24]
Rep. Xavier Becerra [D, CA-31]
Rep. Michael Capuano [D, MA-8]
Rep. Wm. “Lacy” Clay [D, MO-1]
Rep. Gerald “Gerry” Connolly [D, VA-11]
Rep. Joe Courtney [D, CT-2]
Rep. Joseph Crowley [D, NY-7]
Rep. Bill Delahunt [D, MA-10]
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D, CT-3]
Rep. Michael Doyle [D, PA-14]
Rep. Raul Grijalva [D, AZ-7]
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Luis V. [D, IL-4]
Rep. John Hall [D, NY-19]
Rep. Brian Higgins [D, NY-27]
Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D, NY-22]
Rep. Patrick Kennedy [D, RI-1]
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy [D, OH-15]
Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10]
Rep. John Larson [D, CT-1]
Rep. Ben Lujan [D, NM-3]
Rep. Stephen Lynch [D, MA-9]
Rep. Daniel Maffei [D, NY-25]
Rep. Edward Markey [D, MA-7]
Rep. Betty McCollum [D, MN-4]
Rep. James McGovern [D, MA-3]
Rep. George Miller [D, CA-7]
Rep. Jim Moran [D, VA-8]
Rep. Grace Napolitano [D, CA-38]
Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. [D, NJ-6]
Rep. Ed Pastor [D, AZ-4]
Rep. Charles Rangel [D, NY-15]
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard [D, CA-34]
Rep. Linda Sanchez [D, CA-39]
Rep. Jose Serrano [D, NY-16]
Rep. Joe Sestak [D, PA-7]
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter [D, NH-1]
Rep. Paul Tonko [D, NY-21]
Rep. Nydia Velazquez [D, NY-12]
Rep. Diane Watson [D, CA-33]
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