October 10, 2013
How To Pass a U.S. Marriage Amendment
By Mike McManus
When the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
unconstitutional, it did not declare same-sex marriage (SSM) as a constitutional
right. Rather, it asserted that if a state has legalized SSM, federal benefits
such as Social Security could not be denied to a surviving “spouse” of a gay or
Thirteen states and Washington DC have legalized SSM. However, 37 states limit
marriage to the union of one man and one woman – 30 of which are state
Gay activists have filed law suits in 19 states to overturn those laws. “The
exclusion from the esteemed institution of marriage” denies gay couples and
their families tangible government benefits, and “demeans and stigmatizes” them
“by sending the message that they are less worthy and valued than families
headed by opposite sex couples,” says the complaint filed by the American Civil
Liberties Union Foundation on behalf of 10 gay couples in Pennsylvania.
New Jersey Judge Mary Jacobson agreed with gay plaintiffs that the state’s civil
union law puts them at an impermissible disadvantage because the Federal
Government only recognizes legal marriages, and Gov. Christie vetoed a gay
Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boyce, who won the California Prop 8 case in the
U.S. Supreme Court, have filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of
Virginia, which is known to make quick decisions. They hope to see the case in
the Supreme Court in two years.
These developments disturb those who believe marriage should be limited to one
man and one woman. In previous columns I have cited three major reasons to
1. Children need both parents. Grace Evans, an 11-year-old, asked Minnesota
legislators, “Which parent do I not need n- my mom or my dad?” They had no
2. Gay marriage will change the culture. Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, Vermont
refused to allow their facility to be used for the wedding reception of a
lesbian couple because it violated the owners’ Catholic faith. The lesbians sued
and won, forcing the owners to pay a $30,000 fine.
3. Children of same-sex parents fare poorly as adults. One study found 38% of
adult children of lesbians are currently on welfare vs. only 10% of those with a
married mom and dad.
What’s needed is a federal Marriage Amendment limiting marriage to a man
and woman. Shortly after the DOMA decision, Rep. Tim Huelskamp introduced a bill
which now has 55 co-sponsors. However, two-thirds of the House’s 435 Members
have to vote for a Constitutional Amendment – as well as two-thirds in the
Senate where no bill is proposed.
If it passed both chambers by some miracle, it would have to be ratified by
three-fourths of all the states. This prospect seems almost impossible.
However, Article 5 of the Constitution allows another way to pass an amendment.
If the Legislatures of two–thirds of the states – 34 of them - vote for a
Constitutional Convention, it could pass a Marriage Amendment.
Since 37 states have passed constitutional amendments or laws supporting
traditional marriage – it really is possible for 34 states to call for the
Furthermore, when state legislatures have begun to pass an amendment, Congress
pays attention. For more than a century, U.S. Senators were elected by state
legislatures – not the people. In the 1890’s, state legislatures began to call
for a Convention to elect Senators by the people.
The U.S. House acted quickly to pass a Constitutional Amendment by a two-thirds
vote. The Senate, composed of people who might not be elected by popular vote,
ignored the issue. Repeated House initiatives died in the Senate – until it
passed in more and more legislatures.
Finally, the Senate relented, and the Seventeenth Amendment was approved in
This column is published in a number of states that believe in traditional
marriage, such as Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. My challenge to readers
is simple: call your state legislators and ask them to introduce a bill calling
for a Constitutional Convention to pass a Marriage Amendment that would limit
marriage to a man and a woman – like your state laws.
It is true that if 34 states call for a Convention which approves a Marriage
Amendment (or you prod Congress to do so) – the Amendment would have to be
approved by three-quarters of the states, 38 of them.
That would have to include at least one of the states now backing same-sex
marriage. However, by that time, the momentum may be going in the right
The alternative is to see traditional marriage destroyed by SSM advocates in the
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