As you have probably seen in the news Idaho’s Marriage Amendment fell 3 votes short of passage on the Senate floor. With their “NO” vote, 14 Idaho Senators denied marriage in Idaho the fullest possible protection afforded by a constitutional amendment. The media, and those who are seeking to redefine marriage and family would like us to believe that the concept of supporting and protecting traditional marriage in Idaho has failed two years in a row. A closer look tells a different story.
Last year, one liberal Republican who held a powerful position in the Senate, Sheila Sorenson refused to allow even the Senate to vote on a marriage amendment and in the process created a significant amount of chaos around the issue. This year Idaho’s Marriage Amendment was given a hearing in Senate State Affairs and passed on to the Senate floor for a vote of the full Senate. Although making it through committee and onto the Senate floor is significant movement forward we find it a sad commentary that 14 Senators did not believe that Idaho citizens deserved the same opportunity.
Another positive element in SJR 101 was the linking of arms by citizens across this great state with various pro-family groups and making their voices heard. Record numbers of calls and e-mails flowed into the Statehouse. Some Senators had numerous days in which they received well over 100 pieces of communication from their districts. It appears that for many, the margin was 3 to 1 in favor of the amendment. Rest assured, that the commitment from the people has been noticed.
Three national organizations; Focus on the Family, Alliance Defense Fund, and Family Research Council assisted in Idaho. Alliance Defense Fund WROTE the language for the Idaho Marriage Amendment. These organizations provided support with national media, print and internet stories, mailings, local media, personnel coming to Idaho, and as the vote neared, providing extremely valuable polling data for both the short term and long term. We put FRC in contact with Sen. McKenzie and Sen. Sweet for their national media input. These organizations lived their commitment to marriage and family in Idaho. While we were embroiled in this effort in Idaho, people at Focus on the Family would e-mail encouragement and offer that they in Colorado Springs were joining us in prayer for the future of Idaho families.
Great praise needs to go to Senator Bert Marley (D) McCammon Dist.29 for his “Yes” vote. Along with the 20 Republicans who voted “Yes”, he listened to his district. These Senators respected their constituents and acknowledged their support for marriage and of their desire to be given the opportunity to make their voices heard in the voting booth.
Senator McKenzie did a masterful job of laying out the case for the amendment and covering legal issues and Senator Sweet followed with a tremendous talk refuting all social arguments against protecting marriage.
The reasons many of the 14 dissenting Senators gave for voting “no” ranged from the view that this amendment is completely unnecessary as articulated by Senator Little; to the assertion that this is a waste of time and we should be more concerned about important things like transportation, as articulated by Senator Andreason.
Both of these views are ridiculous. Whether appointed or elected, Idaho judges cannot remain immune to rulings and precedent. Neither the federal or state Defense of Marriage Act addresses civil unions or domestic partnerships. That glaring omission alone makes Idaho vulnerable. Across the country judges are ruling on amendments and DOMA’s. States are embroiled in costly battles that are brought to them by residents wishing to change the definition of marriage. All it takes is couple who is defined as a civil union or domestic partnership in another state, to file a case in Idaho and the necessity of the amendment will be painfully clear.
The assertion that we have more important things to worry about like transportation that was made by Senator Andreason, Senator Compton, and the Democrats who joined them in debate against the amendment was chilling. A stronger concern for building roads than securing the foundation of society is troubling.
The poll conducted by Family Research Council shows that support for traditional marriage spans the state of Idaho. The lowest percentage of support was just under 63%. The highest percentage support was just under 82%.
The poll shows that the 14 Senators who voted against giving the people of Idaho the chance to vote on this amendment, who voted against standing for traditional marriage are out of step with Idaho.
The 8 Republicans who voted “No” are not only out of step with the citizens, they are out of step with both the national and state Republican Party.
Here are the Republican senators who voted against the amendment:
Sen. John Andreason, Boise (Dist. 15)
Sen. Charles Coiner, Twin Falls (Dist. 24)
Sen. Richard Compton, Coeur d’Alene (Dist. 5)
Sen. Tom Gannon, Buhl (Dist. 23)
Sen. John Goedde, Coeur d’Alene (Dist. 4)
Sen. Brad Little, Emmett (Dist. 11)
Sen. Gary Schroeder, Moscow (Dist. 6)
Sen. Joe Stegner, Lewiston (Dist. 7)
Here are the Democrat Senators who voted “No”:
Sen. Mike Burkett, Boise (Dist. 19)
Sen. Kate Kelly, Boise (Dist. 18)
Sen. David Langhorst, Boise (Dist. 16)
Sen. Edgar Malepeai, Pocatello (Dist. 30)
Sen. Clint Stennett, Ketchum (Dist. 25)
Sen. Eliot Werk, Boise (Dist. 17)
This linking of pro-marriage-pro-family-arms within our state has not gone unnoticed. We have moved the ball down the field this year and those in opposition have seen that we are united in our reach for the goal line. This team of national and state-wide organizations, along with THOUSANDS OF IDAHO CITIZENS will continue to work together until we see marriage in Idaho protected.
We are involved in a long-term battle for the family. We continue to partner with you all across this state and together we will never give up. There will come a day when Idaho can be the FIRST state in the nation in which the cry of the people overturns this tragic decision by their Senate.
In the very near future I will be sending you an e-mail that addresses the question, “What next?”
In continuing partnership for Idaho Families,
Cornerstone Family Action
Marriage Protection Alliance