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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for July, 2013

Heulskamp introduces his Federal Marriage Amendment

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2013

Tim Huelskamp (R – KS) has, as threatened, introduced his Federal Marriage Amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

Considering that a number of states have enacted marriage equality either through the legislature or the ballot box, this language seems a bit confusing. But as this amendment has about the same chances as an ice cube on a Vegas sidewalk, I guess language is irrelevant.

And Huelskamp is not alone in his clown car. Squeezing in with him are a collection of nobodies hoping to attain a little attention. No Democrats, of course, but about 12% of the House Republicans were happy to plan for a future of political shame and awkward questions from their grandchildren.

Joe Barton (Texas), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), John Fleming (La.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Ralph Hall (Texas), Andy Harris (Md.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Sam Johnson (Texas), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), James Lankford (Okla.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Steven Palazzo (Miss.), Stevan Pearce (N.M.), Robert Pittenger (N.C.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), David Schweikert (Ariz.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Steve Stockman (Texas), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) and Frank Wolf (Va.)

New FMA proposal has four flat tires and a busted radiator

Timothy Kincaid

June 28th, 2013

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) saw the DOMA decision as an opportunity, his ride out of obscurity. So he was the first to trot out with an announcement the he, Rep Huelskamp, would be introducing a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Surely this is a proposal that will fire up the base, get him in the spotlight, and soon he’d be cruising the political fast lane in a pink Cadillac with white-wall tires.

But so far it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. Turns out that not even red state Republicans are ready to climb on board. Not even his fellow Kansans. Not even his own district.

One local state representative didn’t have an opinion because its “a federal matter and he is a state legislator” (oddly, most Republicans in Washington had the opposite opinion). His local GOP Chairman “was in county commission meetings all day yesterday” so he wasn’t following the news.

But the best response had to be this one: (HuffPo)

State Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina) stressed that a gay marriage ban is not a “legislative priority of mine” and said he doesn’t see a chance for Huelskamp’s amendment ever passing. Asked if he believes Huelskamp should have made the proposal, Claeys answered: “I am not sure how to diplomatically sidestep this question.”

So to Huelskamp, I offer this advice: yeah, about that political clunker you have on cinder-blocks in your front yard… you may want to lose that, you’re bringing down property values in the neighborhood.

DOMA Splits GOP Leadership and Rank-And-File

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued this brief statement after the DOMA decision was announced:

Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President Clinton signed it into law.  The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally.  While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances.  A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman

As BTB’s Timothy Kincaid pointed out, many are seeing his statement and others from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R_KY) as a sign that Republican leadership isn’t eager to take up opposition to marriage equality in the nation’s Capital. They can see the tea leaves as well as anyone. Well, almost anyone. One rank and file Congressman looked at Boehner’s statement and saw things differently:

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), speaking at a Tuesday meeting between reporters and conservative lawmakers, said he will file a constituional amendment in Congress late this week to restore DOMA. Huelskamp said he will be joined by other conservatives.

“My response to this [decision] will be later this week to file a federal marriage amendment,” he said.

When asked if leadership is likely to support efforts to restore DOMA, Huelskamp said he was encouraged by the Boehner’s statement after the ruling. “I give tremendous credit to the Speaker of House,” Huelskamp said.

Whatever Huelskamp may think he saw in Boehner’s statement, I think it’s safe to say however that DOMA’s revival will be DOA as soon as it hits the House floor.

Meanwhile, Florida Senator and possible 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio strikes a different tone:

I believe the Supreme Court made a serious mistake today when it overstepped its important, but limited role.  I do not believe that President Clinton and overwhelming bipartisan majorities of both houses of Congress acted with malice or intent to ‘demean’ a class of people when they adopted a uniform definition of marriage for the purposes of federal law.  The Court should not have second guessed the will of the American people acting through their elected representatives without firm constitutional justifications.  The sweeping language of today’s majority opinion is more troubling than the ruling itself as it points to further interference by the Court in the years to come.

For millions of Americans, the definition of marriage is not an abstract political question, or some remote legal debate.  It’s a deeply personal issue. It’s an issue that I have grappled with as well.

I believe that marriage is a unique historical institution best defined as the union between one man and one woman. In the U.S., marriage has traditionally been defined by state law, and I believe each state, acting through their elected representatives or the ballot, should decide their own definition of marriage. For the purposes of federal law, however, Congress had every right to adopt a uniform definition and I regret that the Supreme Court would interfere with that determination.

GOP Reps. React To Marriage Decisions

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2013

In case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a non-transcript rendition of what they said:

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): Unelected judges.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA): Popular laws = Constitutional. Unpopular laws = Unconstitutional.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA): Thank you Boehner for defending it. Negative consequences for children.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ): We the people have final say, not unelected courts. Courts got Federalism wrong.

Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-MI): Desires of adults not more important than needs of children. “Society itself is at risk and cannot continue.”

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA): Marriage has been debased. Why vote? It doesn’t stop here. Churches will be forced to do things they are against.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Court is in collusion with Obama at the expense of children. One more attack on religious institutions.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): This is not a hateful group. We love the U.S.A. It’s all Obama’s fault. Holder lied. The Court (“the new holy quintet”) lied. Dishonesty, inconsistency. King Solomon!

Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN): Limited government. Denied equal protection to every American in the United States. No more co-equal branches, but Supreme Court over all. Oligarchy of five. Limited government. Decision belies the constitution. “The people will have their sway.” Equal protection again. No jurisdiction. Foundational unit of society. Created by God. Supreme Court have not risen to the level of God.

Rep. Tim Huelscamp (R-KS): Narrow radical majority. Think of the children.

House Approves Amendment Barring Justice Dept From Opposing DOMA

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last night to add an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to prohibit the Obama administration from taking any action that could be seen as violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Specifically, the amendment prohibits the Justice Department from spending any money to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. Sixteen Democrats joined the Republican caucus in approving the measure in a 245-171 vote. Seven Republicans opposed the measure: Reps. Mary Bono Mack (CA), Richard Hanna (NY), Nan Hayworth (NY), Steven LaTourette (OH), Jerry Lewis (CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and Rep. Lee Terry (NE).

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said he introduced the amendment in response to Vice President Joe Biden’s expression of support for marriage equality on Sunday. “Stating his position is fine, Huelskamp said, “but you tie that together with the issues with the lawsuit in California in which, essentially, the attorney general walked away from DOMA and said, ‘I’m not going to defend that.’”

The amendment was also introduced after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage.

The sixteen Democrats supporting the amendment were: John Barrow (GA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Ben Chandler (KY), Jerry Costello (IL), Mark Critz (PA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Tim Holden (PA), Larry Kissell (NC), Dan Lipinski (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), Nick Rahall, (WV), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC).