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Marriage Protection Amendment - Motion to Proceed - Continued

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Location: Washington, DC


MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued -- (Senate - June 06, 2006)

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, a couple of my colleagues have spoken in favor of the constitutional amendment that is up today. They have given eloquent statements. We have others who are coming.

What I wanted to do while we wait on additional Members who are coming over to the floor is cover a couple of points I believe have been touched upon, but I think they deserve emphasis. I appreciate my colleagues on the other side of the aisle raising a number of issues that they are saying we are not dealing with. I urge them to vote for cloture on these issues when they come up because we will bring these issues up--on the budget; the supplemental is in a conference; we will have an Energy bill that is going to be coming up. I hope they will vote for cloture to go to that Energy bill so we can actually get it up to vote on it on the floor.

I know a number of them are supportive of the Native Hawaiian issue and are complaining because these issues are not in the top 20 issues in the United States, of the people's concern. Yet they are not raising the Native Hawaiian issue which will come up this week as well. I urge them to vote against that if they think it is not a high-priority issue.

I do think there is some speaking out of both sides of the mouth when you raise all these issues we should be covering and then vote against cloture, preventing us from covering those issues, and then complain about a marriage amendment that they are saying doesn't rise to the level of interest in the United States.

I think it is of a high interest in the United States or you wouldn't have seen all these States that covered it.

There is another issue that has been covered some. I hope we can address that issue. It is the issue of religious freedom. If you do not define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but define it to require that you have to recognize same-sex unions, that is the basis--one of the bases on which Catholic Charities was driven out of the adoption business in Boston. They were required by law to do something against the tenets of their faith. I hope that can be developed some a little later on.

My colleague from Missouri is here. He is one of the strong supporters of this amendment. I yield the floor to the Senator from Missouri, Senator Talent.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Alabama for his support for the marriage amendment. I note, as he knows, that Alabama is voting on this very day on this subject. I feel confident that it, along with the other 19 States--this will make 20--will support marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Mr. SHELBY. I believe that is going to happen today.

Mr. BROWNBACK. If it doesn't----

Mr. SHELBY. Oh, it will.

Mr. BROWNBACK. That is another indication that 20 States have directly voted on this issue. If we would have Senators who follow what the States have done, we would have 90 votes for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I thank my colleague for his strong support. I believe the people of Alabama are going to do it today as well.

I have another colleague who will be speaking shortly. In the interim, I want to develop an argument that has been put forward but I think is an important one to further raise and develop. It is one I have mentioned previously on religious freedom. We have the article that has been mentioned by several by Maggie Gallagher on why Catholic Charities was run out of Boston because they didn't support homosexual adoptions. Rather than breaking one of the tenets of their faith, they said we can no longer do adoptions. There is an argument that churches that do not perform same-sex unions will not be allowed to perform any marriages. I think this bears looking at because it is a serious issue that has a legal history and pedigree to it. It is one we should be concerned about taking place.

I was in a church last Saturday night. My oldest daughter was the maid of honor in a wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony. That church has a very clear conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman. They would not agree to doing marriages between same-sex couples. Then does that mean that they cannot perform any marriages? OK, some say it is too strong of an argument. Yet you have that history in the adoption field, and you have a legal pedigree that is there to develop on top of that.

I think that bears watching.

There is another argument I want to further develop while my colleagues are coming to the floor; that is, this one on ``slippery slope.'' People say this is one that isn't going to happen. It is not going to develop. Yet I think the legal pedigree is there for a slippery slope to develop. Some will be recognizing different groups that have stepped forward already to say that if two people of the same sex can be married, why can't there be additional people? What is the legal bias against having more than two people in a marital arrangement? This even has a term now, polyamorist. They have already had one court case trying to gain recognition for a marriage of a woman and two men. They say in some of their advocacy that they are waiting for same-sex marriage to pass to begin agitation to legalize more than two people getting married.

If you think that is not going to happen, you had the minority opinion in the Supreme Court case that recognized that, what is your legal basis of stopping that, too, if it can be two men or two women? Why is it only two? That is what this group is starting to agitate for. They are saying that granting same-sex marriage is supported on equal protection grounds. How is the court going to deny them? There are plenty of polyamorists out there.

The problem goes further. We have an advocacy group called the Alternatives to Marriage Project which supports polyamory and other innovations to parental cohabitation. The Alternatives to Marriage Project is quoted frequently in the mainstream media. Believe it or not, some of the most powerful factions of family law scholars in the law schools favor legal recognition of both polyamory and parental cohabitation. Even law review articles have been published advocating for both. Again, they argue that if two men can get married and two women can get married, if this is an equal protection argument, why is it limited to just two? What is the legal basis or foundational basis in society for this?

I raise that as a point because this area of law is starting to develop. Even the influential American Law Institute came out with proposals that would grant nearly equal recognition to cohabitation. So this is developing in the law.

I raise these items as issues knowing that some people will scoff at it. You can look at what happened in the world in the past year or so as well. Sweden passed the first same-sex partnership plan in the world and had serious proposals floated by parties on the left to abolish marriage and legalize multipartner unions. So this is out there and it is one of those things we should watch.

My colleague from Alabama has arrived. I yield the floor to him for his comments on the constitutional amendment.

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