Monday, May 22, 2006

Bayh Opposes Federal Marriage Amendment

Sen. Evan Bayh (D), speaking to a group of Indiana bloggers today, unequivocally said he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, which the Senate will vote on early next month. In response to a question from local GLBT activist Linda Perdue, Sen. Bayh said he would vote against the FMA if it comes to a vote next month. Bayh reminded Perdue that he similarly joined opponents of a similar "marriage protection amendment" in voting with 49 other senators last year to block a cloture vote, which had the effect of killing the FMA.

The FMA, like last year's version, would write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution against gays and lesbians by reinforcing the rights of the states to refuse to recognize or enforce same-sex marriages and the legal incidents thereof, even if legally recognized or enforced in another state. Indiana's senior Sen. Richard Lugar (R) voted with the proponents of the amendment last year in supporting a cloture vote. Lugar, who is seeking re-election but currently faces no Democratic opponent, has not yet announced how he intends to vote on the FMA.

Mindful that Indiana voters may be asked to vote on their own gay marriage amendment in 2008, Sen. Bayh declined to take a position on SJR-7, which has already passed one session of the General Assembly. SJR-7, which would recognize only marriages between a man and a woman and which would bar recognition of any rights similar to the legal incidents of marriage to same-sex couples, will be placed on the ballot in 2008 if it is passed in an identical form by the General Assembly during the next session.

Bayh's response came in a follow-up question from Bilerico's Bil Browning. Bayh told Browning that he had not read SJR-7, and that he felt that it was a matter which should be left to the voters of each state to decide. He later added that his position was not unlike that of Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, has also stated that he personally opposes the federal marriage amendment, but he believes each state should be allowed to decide for themselves.

Bayh did not directly discuss other GLBT-related issues during today's luncheon with Indiana bloggers. He made it clear, however, that he would have no part of promoting any divisive agenda with a "divide and conquer" strategy in mind for short-term political gain, an indirect slap at the Republican majority's use of such issues as the gay marriage debate for electoral advantage.

It should be noted that Sen. Bayh's staff made a conscientious decision to include GLBT bloggers at today's luncheon. By including participants from Bilerico and AI, Sen. Bayh's staff clearly understood the risk that he might be asked sensitive questions about topics the religious right loves to exploit for political gain. As a presidential candidate though, Bayh understands that GLBT voters can play a pivotal role in some of the battleground states. He is wise to cast a broad net in reaching out to voters from all groups at this early stage of his campaign.

If you would like to learn more about Bayh's records on GLBT-issues compared to Sen. Lugar's, click here to see an earlier analysis AI did of the two's records.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind mention, Gary - we appreciate having two bilerico contributors mentioned on your blog! It was a pleasure seeing you at the event. I mentioned Advance Indiana in my post about the lunch - be sure to post about your question about how the Iraqi government is treating LGBT citizens. It was an interesting topic of conversation.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Bil--thanks--I'm going to do another follow up on the balance of the issues.

Jeff Newman said...

I bet Russ Feingold wouldn't have to "read" the state marriage amendment to issue an opinion on it.

I don't declare myself a member of either party, but when it comes to this issue, where in the hell are the democrats? I hope they're not represented by Evan Bayh; he should not have even hesitated to express opposition to that awful amendment.

I don't believe his bullshit answer for a minute; he knows what's in it. If not what the hell kind of senator is he if he doesn't even follow the headline issues in his home state?

I'm disgusted with Senator Bayh.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Jeff--on the actual issues he has had to vote on in the Senate, he has been very good on GLBT issues, particularly when contrasted with Sen. Lugar. The fact is that he doesn't have to cast a vote in the Indiana legislature on SJR-7--that's not his battle. He does have to cast a vote on the FMA--and on that issue, he is on the side of the GLBT community.

Jeff Newman said...

Yes, but a little leadership on this issue would be helpful don't you think? Couldn't Bayh's opposition to a state amendment be leveraged to work on state Democrats?

Pat Robertson said...

Kind of sad that with everything that's going wrong in this country, Rove & Co. are going to be hammering in the wedge issues this November. They certainly know how to campaign, but they don't have a clue how to govern.

Marla R. Stevens said...

I'm with Jeff on this one. Too bad nobody asked him about DenialOMA repeal, which is the real divining rod on this issue. Comparatively, the FMA and MPA are no-brainers, not to mention that a lack of an amendment is functionally inconsequential without DenialOMA repeal. Many of our nation's senators said as much during the debate as they fell all over themselves reassuring each other that, MPA or no MPA, the bar to equal access to this fundamental right was safely intact, the pigs.

Bayh isn't your friend. Hoosier queers have too often mistaken access for support. Bayh is trying to use you to counter the highly justified criticism he's getting about his always less than stellar support that sometimes falls to outright opposition to our equal rights under the law and equal opportunity and treatment in American society. Don't let him.