It failed to reach the floor for a vote. No surprise there. Democratically-based governements are reactionary, by their very nature, if not in principle, then in practice. The affirmation of marriage as between one man and one woman exists by constitution or statute in 90% of the states in the union. The federal Defense of Marriage Act allowing a state to reject another's definition of marriage was passed and signed into law 10 years ago with broad bi-partisan support.
President Bush has identified correctly the source of a growing anxiety:
Since 2004, state courts in Washington and California and Maryland and New York have ruled against marriage laws. Last year, a federal judge in Nebraska overturned a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an amendment that was approved by 70 percent of the population. And at this moment, nine states face lawsuits challenging the marriage laws they have on the books. ...If [the Defense of Marriage Act] is overturned by the courts, then marriage recognized in one city or state may have to be recognized as marriages everywhere else. That would mean that every state would have to recognize marriage as redefined by judges in, say, Massachusetts or local officials in San Francisco, no matter what their own state laws or their state constitutions say.
That the American nation believes marriage is and ought to be between one man and one woman is beyond question, no matter the earnestness of a persistent minority, or their recent glee over the amendment's failure. A constitutional amendment in this case is a pre-emptive prescription for when, not if, an activist judiciary moves to block the national sentiment. That the Senate did not even allow the amendment to come to a floor vote underscores the reactive nature of our politics and illustrates that what Chesterton called the medical mistake is alive and well in Washington; insisting on "stating the disease before we find the cure, ... when we must actually find the cure before we find the disease." Oftentimes waiting to act is not a failing, for a host of reasons. Here, however, what is wrong is not the failure to respond with the cure for traditional marriage, but the failure to respond to the "cure" of what is right and good with traditional marriage.
[posted by e-mail]