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Filler: Why congress won't touch the Defense of Marriage Act

From left, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. John

From left, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. take part in a news conference, on Capitol Hill announcing the introduction of a resolution condemning the Proposition 8 decision in California on same-sex marriage. Credit: AP, 2010

A new study released last week makes the clear case for why Congress won’t be overturning the Defense of Marriage Act anytime soon, if one delves into the numbers a bit.

According to a June poll by CNN, 54 percent of Americans now support legalized gay marriage. A recent Pew poll put the number at 48 percent., with 44 percent opposed.

The study this week by the group Human Rights campaign shows 34 percent of those in Congress support same-sex marriage, with another 23 percent having unknown or unclear positions. It’s a reasonable but not certain bet that much of that “undecided” group in Congress don’t really oppose gay marriage but fear voters who do: those who truly oppose same-sex marriage seem generally to be pretty sure of it these days.

So 34 percent in favor and 23 percent iffy in Congress could suggest eventual legalization, except for one problem.

The Republicans control the House, and while the Pew poll showed 24 percent of Republican voters support same-sex marriage (compared to 65 percent of Democratic voters), those are the ones whose voices can’t be heard.

In reality, Republican congressional candidates who support gay marriage, in most of the nation, will lose a primary badly, at best garnering that 24 percent that agrees with them and getting creamed by a candidate who can court the vast majority who don’t.

So, in some sense, it’s the considerable number of Republicans supporting gay marriage who can’t get their voices heard. And that legislative paralysis is why at least four gay marriage cases, including direct challenges to DOMA are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pictured above: From left, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. take part in a 2010 news conference, on Capitol Hill announcing the introduction of a resolution condemning the Proposition 8 decision in California on same-sex marriage.
 

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