Bush will join push on gay marriage

WASHINGTON – The campaign against gay marriage is scheduled to get the administration’s special treatment on Monday – words from President Bush at the White House, an array of VIPs assembled to hear him, a bank of television cameras on hand to broadcast the proceedings.

Such marquee billing aims to confer the grandeur of the office on the push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But even before administration officials announced the event, some of the invitees, far from swooning at the honor, denounced it as a sham.

“I’m going to go and hear what he says, but we already know it is a ruse,” said Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, which opposes gay marriage. “We’re not buying it. We’re going to go and watch the dog-and-pony show, (but) it’s too little, too late.”

Such comments have raised the prospect that the debate on gay marriage – designed to galvanize one of Bush’s most important constituencies, social conservatives – could instead exacerbate the president’s political headaches.

The White House gathering will serve as a prelude to the Senate debate next week on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Supporters acknowledge they have little hope of reaching the two-thirds threshold – 67 votes – the measure would need to pass in the 100-member Senate. Indeed, they likely will fail to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to shut off debate and force an up-or-down roll call tally on the proposal.

Two years ago, when Republicans brought the amendment to the floor less than four months before the 2004 presidential election, only 48 senators voted to end debate. The GOP gained Senate seats in the ‘04 election, but not enough to appreciably improve the chances of reaching the 60-vote mark.

Even if the measure were to pass the Senate – and then win a two-thirds majority in 435-member House, the arduous process for amending the Constitution could derail it. After clearing Congress, the proposal would require ratification by three-fourths of the 50 states to take effect.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., adhering to a pledge he made months ago, is bringing up the amendment for debate anyway.

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