I think its important that Senator Evan Bayh has met with bloggers (Bilerico, Advance Indiana, et al.) The meeting was a great idea, and I hope that more such meetings occur with other candidates and office holders. Lots of considered opinions and interpretations to emerge from so many different perspectives gives everyone plenty to chew on.
I have my own thoughts on what we've heard from Senator Bayh, whose position against the FMA should be adjusted. I hope his staff thinks carefully and reconsiders his position.
The position is best understood in relationship to Senator Lugar's position, which has been widely and often incorrectly interpreted, in spite of the fact that he set it all out in detail. Lobbyists who
worked both Senator's offices reported that Lugar had no fear of the Amendment going to vote on the floor because he was perfectly comfortable voting against it, and he expected it to lose. But the difference between the two as to why they will vote against it can be summed up (or paraphrased) in this way: Senator Bayh is saying that constitutionally the decision should be left to the State, which would seem to express a comfort with a state acting as it may wish with its own Constitution; his position is of no help to us at all. Senator Lugar, on the other hand, has expressed concerns about amending the Federal Constitution in a sloppy and haphazard way in response to a drummed up crisis. Lugar's reservations about the FMA apply just as much to amending the Constitution at a local level.
To put it differently, Evan Bayh will vote against the Federal Amendment to the Constitution when it reaches the floor because he thinks it should be left to the states. Could a person with that position also support an Amendment at the state level banning marriage and its incidents, perhaps even civil union? Easily, so he can retain the confidence of conservatives. Senator Lugar (I predict) will vote against the Federal Amendment to the Constitution when it reaches the floor because he has written (I paraphrase) that he thinks its sloppy, polarizing, fears it was drummed up in a false sense of crisis, shows no sense of compromise, and could have far more dramatic impact on such things as civil union, tax, property, and insurance benefits than had been considered. Would a person with such a position turn around and support the same Amendment at the state level that is sloppy, polarizing, drummed up in a false sense of crisis, shows no sense of compromise, and has far more dramatic impact on such thing as civil union, tax, property, and insurance benefits than had been considered? Not very easily.
Times have changed. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in the 90's under right-wing Republican pressure (and signed into law by a Democratic President and Governor) was a freight train that travelled through nearly 10 years ago. Lugar has been in office forever, and has plenty of votes on these topics with which I disagree. No doubt a substantial case can be built against him. But in observing my parents, who are close to his age, I think he is no less capable than they of thoughtful reflection and evolving thought. In his position on the FMA he has revealed no willingness to pander to the religious right and pretend to them a philosophical agreement with a broad amendment either at the Federal or State level where in fact he seems to have little such agreement.
Senator Lugar's position reveals one who in dealing with an inflammatory topic is sensitive to the importance of his words on this topic to gays and lesbians in Indiana and nationally. Evan Bayh, on the other hand, in saying it should be left to the states, has provided no hint of philosophical qualm with a broad state constitutional amendment.