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For Foes of Same-Sex Marriage, It's the Thought That Counts

At a Capitol rally, opponents of same-sex marriage  --  including, from left, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), the Rev. William Owens, Bishop Harry Jackson and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)  --  unite in their urgency to ban it.
At a Capitol rally, opponents of same-sex marriage -- including, from left, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), the Rev. William Owens, Bishop Harry Jackson and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) -- unite in their urgency to ban it. (Photos By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

There's violence in Iraq, corruption in the House and anxiety in the markets. Somebody needs to create a diversion.

"The gays are aggressive! Gays have called war! Gays are attacking traditional marriage!"

Bishop Harry Jackson was shouting these words outside the Capitol yesterday morning, at a rally for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"Marriage is under attack!" cried out Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), also at the rally.

"We can have anarchy!" warned Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.).

No doubt Jackson, Allard and Harris are sincere in their views about marriage. But the urgency of their alarm is a bit suspect to anybody with an eye on the electoral calendar.

With President Bush's encouragement, the Senate this week is taking up the marriage amendment even though everybody knows it will be roundly defeated, most likely in a vote today. Proponents are hoping to add perhaps four votes to the 48 they got in 2004 -- at the same time in the previous election cycle. At this pace, it will be 2014 before the amendment has a shot at getting the 67 votes it needs to pass.

What the marriage amendment indisputably does, though, is delight social conservatives, whose turnout in November will be crucial if Republicans are to retain their majorities in the House and Senate. And conservative activists have burst back on the scene to show their gratitude -- even if they know it's a losing cause.

"If we didn't believe in miracles, we wouldn't have spent our vacation money to come here," said Sandra Rodrigues of Utah, who with her family has been standing outside the Russell Senate Office Building all week, shouting at senators and displaying signs urging "Stop Same Sex Marriage: It Endorses Masturbation." "If same-sex marriage is endorsed," she explained, "then you're going to have children think it's just another option to have pleasure."

Rodrigues and family have plenty of allies in their effort to stir up the GOP base. A group backed by the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council scheduled an all-day event Monday at the National Press Club featuring Robert Bork and Alan Keyes. Allard has held two events in as many days. And the activists are vying to outdo one another in hysteria.

"This is in many ways the crucial question of our time," Heritage's Matthew Spalding submitted at a Press Club event.

Said Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute: "We have boys who are going to be in with your girls in the locker room and the restrooms."


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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