WIth a 49-48 vote to close debate on the Marriage Protection Amendment in the Senate, the Senate effectively defeated this amendment. Falling 11 votes short of the 60 needed for cloture, there will not be an up-or-down vote on the issue. Republicans McCain (AZ), Specter (PA), Sununu (NH), Snowe and Collins (ME), Chafee (RI) and Gregg (NH) voted against cloture. In addition a number of Republicans who voted for cloture likely would have opposed the Amendment itself had it come up for an up-or-down vote.
While I basically agree with Glenn Reynolds that this was a “pander,” I think it was a pander that, by promoting debate, could have had positive consequences. In a similar vein, Captain Ed called the president’s effort on the MPA “baldly partisan and completely superfluous,” but did point out that some “may get excited by the debate.” (Thanks to a reader for alerting me to that post.)
Alas, that there was little serious debate to get excited about. As I noted previously, my hopes of a good debate on this important issue were dashed almost from the moment the Senate took up the amendment. And it wasn’t just the social conservatives making sanctimonious arguments about the threats to marriage. Too many on the left (and even a few in the middle) used the debate as another excuse to bash President Bush, suggesting that the debate itself was a waste of time. As Stephen Miller put it on the Independent Gay Forum:
the response of even those Democrats and moderate Republicans voting against it—i.e., suggesting the topic itself is unworthy of debate—is also indefensible. What a display of gay political impotence all round, and a missed opportunity to make a positive case for the principle of equality (or even something closer to equality, such as civil unions)
Because I believe this is the most significant social issue facing our community, I am delighted that it is, at least for a few weeks, getting the national attention it deserves. Unfortunately (as I’ve said many times before) even advocates of gay marriage have not taken advantage of this attention to promote a serious discussion of this important topic, preferring to insult rather than engage their adversaries.
Despite the absence of debate this time, I remained committed to promoting discussion of this important issue. In a post on Friday, I mentioned that “I had hoped to do a series of posts . . . on gay marriage.” Although I was unable to do that before the Senate debate, I will attempt to do so in the coming days. I have recently consolidated some of my notes on the topic and have listed (below the jump) some issues I expect to address.
Just because the Senate has defeated (for now) this pernicious proposal does not mean we should stop debating this important issue. Indeed, we need to keep talking about the meaning of marriage, both in terms of gay culture and society at large. On this, I agree with the social conservatives. If only we could engage them in a real debate, with sincere recognition of the serious arguments on both sides.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
Topics for (potential) future posts on marriage:
• Monogamy & Divorce: the two most important issues in a serious debate on marriage.
• Our society’s two conversations about marriage.
• 5 “ordinary” gay couples
• Gay Marriage Culture
• Does Coming Out Weaken our Values?
• Objections to Gay Marriage
• War is not Declared; Debate is Joined
• The Nanny State vision of Andrew’s “M Word”
• Gay Community’s Worst Hour
• My Changing Views on the Debate of a Constitutional Amendment