Friday, February 17, 2006

Senate to Come to the Rescue, Save House Dems from Marriage Vote Fallout

Two days after the House of Delegates effectively killed House Joint Resolution 106, the House version of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and forbidding the courts from requiring the Legislature to establish civil unions, the Senate has come to the rescue of their colleagues in the other body.

Senate Joint Resolution 12, sponsored by Senator Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and 22 other senators, may far a much better chance of passing the Senate than the House version does of passing the House. SJR 12 has been referred to both the Judiciary and Finance committees--unusual for a proposal not affecting fiscal policy.

The number of sponsors alone constitutes the required 2/3 of the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment, if the amendment reaches the floor for a vote. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, is among the cosponsors, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, is not. Unless the Democratic senators are more willing to buck their leadership than their colleague sin the other body, Kessler now wields sole control over whether this amendment will see the light of day in the Senate.

If the Senate does pass SJR 12, it will still be up tot he same House of Delegates committees and their chairmen to decide whether the people of this state will have the opportunity to vote on prohibiting any court in the future from following the lead of their counterparts in Massachusetts and mandating same-sex marriage or those in Vermont who ordered the creation of a "civil union" system that conveys marriage in everything but name to same-sex couples.