Wednesday, February 15, 2006

House Dems Collectively Commit Career Suicide: Near Party-Line Vote in WV House Defeats Defense of Marriage Amendment

The West Virginia House of Delegates today voted against discharging from committee a proposed constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage; 35 members voted for discharge, 63 against. House Constitutional Revision Committee Chairman Joe Talbott, D-Webster, will not permit the proposed amendment to receive a hearing. Indeed, Talbott has refused to hold a single meeting of this committee since January 2005.

House Majority Leader Rick Staton, D-Wyoming, said this measure was just election-year pandering by Republicans and that the state statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman negates the need for a constitutional amendment. Huh? A lawyer of 20 years' experience should know that nothing short of a constitutional amendment can protect a statute from being overturned at some point in the future by activist judges--as was done 2 years ago in Massachusetts.

Are the Dems oblivious to reality? They have just handed control of the House of Delegates after the November election to the GOP on a silver platter unless they reverse course in the next month.

The AP is now reporting:

Gay marriage amendment push fails

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The House of Delegates rejected a bid Wednesday to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that targets same-sex marriage, which is banned under a 2000 state law.

With two absent, a largely party-line vote of 35-63 defeated an attempt to have the necessary resolution bypass the House's Constitutional Revision Committee.

Supporters argued that the state Supreme Court could someday overturn the law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Four gay and lesbian couples challenged the law in 2004. The justices rejected their petition on a 3-2 vote.

"Courts throughout the country are attacking statutory enactments on the definition of marriage,'' said Delegate Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, who led the effort. "It's very important that we do this.''

Three states -- Massachusetts, Hawaii and Vermont -- have seen their high courts order equal treatment for same-sex couples. Hawaii has since amended its constitution to ban gay marriage, while Vermont created civil unions that are not recognized in most other states.

Armstead and other House GOP members of the constitutional committee said they chose the motion because so far this session, the panel has failed to meet. One of 10 minor committees that typically only meet on Wednesdays, the committee had canceled that morning's meeting.

Its chairman, Delegate Joe Talbott, called the move to discharge House Joint Resolution 106 from his committee "largely symbolic.''

"To imply that what's already the law in West Virginia is not sufficient, to me is questionable,'' said Talbott, D-Webster.

Other Democrats suggested the move smacked of election-year politics. All 100 House seats are on the ballot this year.

"There are any number of issues that this house fails to take up that would mean more to the voters in the state,'' said Delegate Carrie Webster, D-Kanawha. "This is simply, with no disrespect meant, political pandering... Let's call it what it is, and let's call it a day.''

That prompted some Republicans to counter that their constituents have clamored for such an amendment.

"If it is pandering, then I'm happy to be pandering to people in West Virginia and people in my district,'' said Delegate Craig Blair, R-Berkeley. "We're doing exactly what the people would expect of us.''

But one of the resolution's co-sponsors was among those urging the discharge motion's defeat.

"I'm extremely sad with the motion that's been made,'' said Delegate John Pino, D-Fayette. "I'm sorry with the time that's been taken up on this.''

With Delegate Robert Schadler, R-Mineral, absent, all 31 Republicans present voted for the motion. They were joined by Democratic delegates Eustace Frederick of Mercer County, Tom Louisos of Fayette County, Tim Miley of Harrison County and Dale Stephens of Cabell County.

Say hello to a Republican majority in January 2007.