Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This story that was posted late last week at the Southern Baptist Convention's BP News site:

Judge's ruling convinces Sen. Ben Nelson to support constitutional marriage amendment

LINCOLN, Neb. (BP)--A federal judge's ruling in May striking down Nebraska's marriage amendment has persuaded one of the state's senators, Democrat Ben Nelson, to support a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Focus on the Family issued a statement June 10 saying Nelson had told the organization he now supports a marriage amendment. Nelson spokesman David DiMartino subsequently confirmed to Baptist Press that the senator does indeed support an amendment. As late as last summer, Nelson said he opposed an amendment, believing it was best to leave the issue of "gay marriage" up to the states.

Nelson's support gives marriage amendment sponsors a critical Democratic ally.

...Asked whether Nelson would sign on as a co-sponsor of the amendment, DiMartino said, "He's going to support the effort whenever it comes up." ...

I think that last sentence is critical. I'm sure a lot of you, quite sensibly, believe that there'll be a drumbeat for some sort of war in the run-up to the 2006 elections. I'm sure the Bushies have sketched out something like that -- but I'm not sure they'll be able to pull it off, given the mess in Iraq, and I'm convinced that the GOP's real plan is to schedule a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment for just after the '06 voting -- as a way to send the word to evangelicals that the only way to keep America from slipping headlong into Godless anarchy is to turn out and vote Republican. Which is where Nelson's turnaround comes in -- he's up for reelection in '06.

And if this isn't the Bushies' plan, I think it's the Religious Right's plan.

Back in March there was a Family Research Council gathering; Americans United for the Separation of Church and State managed to get tape recordings of a couple of the key speeches. The one that got all the headlines was Tom DeLay's speech, in which he notoriously said, "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America." But Bill Frist also spoke, and his speech didn't get nearly enough attention. As Americans United noted at the time:

Frist ... promised to coordinate with the FRC to ensure that a Senate vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment is scheduled to achieve maximum influence at the polls.

"We will, once again, bring an amendment to the floor when the time is right," Frist said. "I and others will be discussing with you when the appropriate time is. Last year we had to be sure it was an issue on which Americans could express their minds at the polls…. We want to protect marriage from activist judges once and for all, and we will do it."

That's the plan. Be forewarned.

(You can listen to the Frist and DeLay speeches and find transcripts here.)

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