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Sen. Bill Frist on Gay Marriage and Flag Burning, America’s Most Pressing Priorities

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"Sen. Bill Frist on Gay Marriage and Flag Burning, America’s Most Pressing Priorities"

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Today on Fox News Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) tried to argue that banning flag-burning and same-sex marriage are two of the nation’s most pressing priorities, which is why he put them on the Senate agenda for June:

HOST: …Are gay marriage and flag burning the most important issues the Senate can be addressing in June of 2006?

FRIST:…When you look at that flag and you tell me that right now people in this country are saying it’s okay to desecrate that flag and to burn it and to not pay respect to it, is that important to our values as a people when we’ve got 130,000 people fighting for our freedom and liberty today? That is important. It may not be important here in Washington where people say, well, it’s political posturing and all, but it’s important to the heart and soul of the American people. … Why marriage today? Marriage is for our society that union between a man and a woman, is the cornerstone of our society. It is under attack today.

But as the Fox News host points out, these moves are nothing more than pandering to the right-wing base. Flag-burning incidents declined rapidly after 9/11 and haven’t shown any signs of rebounding. Right now, Cuba, China, and Iran are the only other countries to ban flag desecration and the issue doesn’t even show up on recent polls as an important priority for the American public.

On gay marriage, only 40 percent of the American public ranked it as an extremely or very important issue in a Feb. poll, behind eight other issues, including terrorism (89 percent), the war in Iraq (89 precent), the economy (88 percent), and health care costs (88 percent).

Looks like the “heart and soul of the American people” have different priorities, Sen. Frist.

Full transcript below.

HOST: You talk about a lot of issues that affect people’s lives. And yet you’re going to bring two constitutional amendments to the Senate floor in the next few weeks, one to ban same-sex marriage, another to ban flag-burning, both reportedly in the papers to mobilize your conservative base. I have to tell you, I talked to a Republican senator this week who said he may vote for both of them but said they’re both pandering. Are gay marriage and flag burning the most important issues the Senate can be addressing in June of 2006?

FRIST: Let me tell you what the agenda is real quick. Secure America’s safety here at home. I mentioned supporting our troops overseas, making sure we pass that supplemental bill, making sure we tighten down our borders. securing America, a healthier America, so we’ll continiue to –

HOST: All right. But —

FRIST: Let me tell you, right now there’s no prioritization there. Securing America’s values. I hope tomorrow and today as people see that American flag, and I’m going to Arlington cemetery tomorrow and I’m going to see that flag waving on every grave over there. When you look at that flag and you tell me that right now people in this country are saying it’s okay to desecrate that flag and to burn it and to not pay respect to it, is that important to our values as a people when we’ve got 130,000 people fighting for our freedom and liberty today? That is important. It may not be important here in Washington where people say, well, it’s political posturing and all, but it’s important to the heart and soul of the American people. Marriage — marriage, you asked about. Right now. Why marriage today? Marriage is for our society that union between a man and a woman, is the cornerstone of our society. It is under attack today. Right now there are 13 states who passed constitutional amendments in the last year and a half to protect marriage. Why? Because in nine states today, activist judges, unelected activist judges are tearing down state laws in nine states today. That’s why I will take it to the floor of the Senate, simply define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

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