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Religious Right Seeks Unprecedented Constitutional Convention To Ban Gay Marriage Without Congress

By Judd Legum on June 15, 2006 at 10:40 am

"Religious Right Seeks Unprecedented Constitutional Convention To Ban Gay Marriage Without Congress"

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Earlier this month, efforts to ban gay marriage by amending the Constitution failed badly in Senate. Now the religious right is considering appealing to state legislatures to call a Constitutional Convention under an obscure provision of Article 5 that would allow amendments to the Constitution without congressional approval. The Evans-Novak report has the details:

Meeting after the big failure at the offices of the social-conservative Family Research Council, the top leaders of the marriage movement — Catholic, Protestant and Mormon leaders among others — discussed the possibility of an unprecedented Constitutional Convention. Two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures would have to call for such a convention — which could be done only with great difficulty. Even then, no one knows what such a convention would look like or what sort of amendments could result from it.

Right-wing pundit Bob Novak, who writes the report, appears to be pushing the idea even as he calls it “rather fanciful.” Novak argues banning gay marriage through a constitutional convention would be difficult but not impossible:

[I]f such a convention were to pass a marriage amendment, we estimate that 28 states would easily ratify it. Another eight states may do so only after a protracted and bloody political fight (which could span an election cycle). That leaves supporters with two more states to go to reach the threshold of 38 (three-fourths), and only the most difficult ground to fight on — states such as Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon and Nevada are probably not ideal places to win such a fight, although not all would be unwinnable.

Novak notes that such a convention would give liberals the opportunity to write their own amendments. He’s convinced, however, “that there are more than 13 states with legislatures willing to block anything too far out on the left.” That’s a relief.

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