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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 2, 2005

DeWine will vote for U.S. ban amendment

Washington, D.C.--Ohio�s senior senator, Mike DeWine, will vote to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit recognition of same- sex marriage.

The two-term Republican said November 29 through spokesperson Jeff Sadosky that he supports the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment and will vote for it in the Senate Judiciary Committee and if it hits the Senate floor.

DeWine was the last uncertain vote on the Judiciary Committee. His decision to support it will almost certainly send it to the full Senate, and possibly into the Constitution.

The senator�s statement ended some speculation and amendment opponents� hope that he might vote against it.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, DeWine had not previously declared his position on it.

When the measure was before the Senate last year, Republicans took it to the floor without a committee vote.

Once it got there, Democrats filibustered. The only vote that was taken was a procedural �cloture� vote to break the filibuster, which failed 50-48.

DeWine, like his Ohio counterpart George Voinovich, voted for cloture. However, such procedural votes often don�t show a member�s position on the substance of a bill.

Having never cast a �substance� vote nor publicly expressed a position on the amendment, DeWine was thought to be �in play.�

This became particularly important earlier this month when Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania cast the decisive 5-4 vote that moved the amendment out of the Constitution subcommittee, instead of letting it sit until next year. That vote split along party lines with Republicans for and Democrats against.

Specter has said he opposes the amendment on principle and will vote against it on the Senate floor, but that he did not want to be a committee chair who held things up.

DeWine is not on the Constitution subcommittee. On the full Judiciary Committee, all Republicans except Specter and possibly DeWine had been counted as strongly supporting the measure and all Democrats as firmly opposed.

Had DeWine and Specter joined the Democrats in opposition, the amendment would have died in committee 10-8. But with their support, it will now go to the floor whenever Republicans decide to move it.

HRC legislative director Chris Labonte said the measure can still be stopped in the full Senate if the Democrats filibuster, as Republicans don�t have the 67 votes needed for cloture.

He expects that the vote will turn out similar to last year�s, but that Republicans will bring it up anyway whenever it suits them politically to do so.

Labonte said Republicans brought up the amendment this year to rally their conservative base and deflect attention from the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers.

Last year, they moved it a few days before the Democratic National Convention.

�All indication,� said Labonte, �is that they will move it some time during the 2006 election.�

Ohioans tried to sway their senator

Seven lesbian and gay community leaders attempted to convince DeWine to oppose the amendment. They met his aide Scott Corbitt at DeWine�s Columbus office on November 16 to tell their personal stories and tell why the amendment is a bad idea.

Organized by HRC and Equality Ohio, the seven were Equality Ohio director Lynne Bowman and its education fund chair Tom Grote, Bill Brownson, Terry Penrod, Scott Varner, and new parents Julia McDevitt and Lori Morris with their 14-month-old son Luke.

McDevitt and Morris told Corbitt that Luke was born with �blue baby� syndrome and had to be rushed to a separate children�s hospital. Against her doctor�s orders and still partly under anesthesia from the Caesarean section, McDevitt had to go to the other hospital to admit Luke because it wouldn�t recognize Morris as a parent, even with the authorizations and power of attorney documents she had.

The amendment denies the �legal incidents� of marriage--which could include parenting rights--to any relationship other than marriage between a woman and a man.

Bowman said Corbitt was so moved by the story that he promised to arrange a meeting between the family and the senator so he could hear it from them.

That meeting has not occurred yet.

Corbitt also told the group that phone calls and emails to DeWine�s office were running 99 to 1 in favor of the amendment.

�Our community did not mobilize well around this,� said Bowman. �People like DeWine need to hear our stories.�

�However,� said Bowman, �if DeWine is truly a Republican and believes that the power to make decisions belongs with the states, the states are dealing with it, and the federal government should leave it alone. He needs to be true to his Republican values.�

DeWine is up for re-election in 2006.

�With the current climate in Ohio, no doubt the election is heavily impacting his decision,� said Bowman, adding that the electoral politics also create opportunities to those opposed to the amendment.

�Any time you can point out that a candidate is opposed to equality, then there is impact on both us and our allies,� said Bowman, �which can be used to mobilize people too.�


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