December 08, 2004
Adultery Provision Could Stall Homosexual Marriage Amendment
Pro-family groups are seeking to bolster a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage by adding a provision that would also prohibit adultery. While the so-called "seventh commandment" has strong voter support, some legislators are wary of outlawing adultery, citing what they call the 'Glass House of Representatives' effect. In a related story, for some congresswomen, infidelity may be in the genes.
But some on Capital Hill are nervous about what the law could mean for them
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—When the 109th Congress convenes in the nation's capitol next month, legislators will have an awesome responsibility on their hands: defending the sanctity of marriage. Now, some pro-family groups are proposing that a constitutional amendment to protect marriage be strengthened further—by adding a provision that would ban adultery.
Their demand is simple: add two simple words to the proposed marriage amendment. "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups—or adulterers."
The no-cheating rider is a 'no brainer,' say advocates, pointing out that adultery is blamed for 30% of divorces each year. But some members of congress say that banning adultery goes too far, while others are pushing a moral amnesty that would let previous offenders off the hook.
When members of a pro-family lobby group called Defend Our Marriages were looking to add anti-adultery language to the proposed constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, the office of Representative Dan Burton was one of their first stops. After all, the 11-term Indiana Republican has a long history of fighting for family values, and was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment introduced last May.
But Burton balked when it came to backing the adultery provision. "We couldn't even get a meeting with him," said DOM member Sandy Slokum, noting that her group had chosen to approach Burton because of the 100% rating he'd received from the Christian Coalition. "His office basically slammed the door in our faces. Doesn't he believe in the seventh commandment?" said Slokum.
Perhaps not. In 1998, Burton was forced to admit to having had an adulterous affair in the 1980s, during which he fathered a son. Were the amendment banning both homosexual marriage and adultery to take effect, Burton would lose many of the privileges of marriage, including tax benefits, inheritance rights, even the ability to visit loved ones in the hospital.
Burton might even have to run for his congressional seat as a single man, not an easy task in era in which "single" is short-hand for homosexual, and single candidates are often derided as "limp wrists" and "switch hitters."
Glass Houses of Representatives
The nervousness over the proposed language addition extends far beyond Capitol Hill. As any student of American politics can explain, the process of amending the constitution only begins with Congress; once the bill has passed both houses, it goes on to the states. And while punishing homosexuals has proved politically popular this year, politicians at the state level are finding that the anti-adultery provisions cuts a bit close to the bone.
Georgia state senator Joey Brush was one of the strongest proponents of the state's constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, but likely wouldn't fare so well were the federal amendment expanded to include adultery. The Republican senator was tarred with the brush of hypocrisy early this year when reports that he'd had two extramarital affairs—both with married women—while still married to the mother of his four children made their way into the press.
Political experts say that state legislators will ultimately determine if the bans on homosexual marriage and adultery are to be written into the constitution; three-fourths of the states must pass the amendment before it can be enacted. But that may prove difficult if constituents believe that their legislators are enacting one standard for themselves and a different one for everyone else. "These guys are already notorious for thinking that the law doesn't apply to them," said one long-time observer of the nation's political scene. "They run stop signs, they hire their friends and now they get to cheat and the rest of us can't? I don't think so."
Amnesty for adulterers
Some proponents of the anti-adultery measure say that support for the measure could be strengthened if an amnesty or grandfather clause were written into the law. In this case, congressmen who had committed adultery prior to the law's passage would still be allowed to keep their marriage rights, but would be subjected to the same punishment as homosexuals if they cheated on their wives or husbands after the constitution was amended.
DOM's Slokum says that she'd prefer not to have to water down the marriage protection amendment with a grandfather clause—but will embrace the change if it's necessary to get the measure passed.
"In Corinthians, when thieves, idolaters and swindlers came to Paul, he says to them, 'And that is what some of you were.' He didn't just save them, but delivered them from their sins. That's what we're trying to do for our Congressmen," says Slokum.
Deanna Swift can be reached at email@example.com
December 8, 2004 | Permalink
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» Our Moral Elite In Action from Hellblazer
Adultery Provision Could Stall Homosexual Marriage AmendmentWhen the 109th Congress convenes in the nation's capitol next month, legislators will have an awesome responsibility on their hands: defending the sanctity of marriage. Now, some pro-family gr... [Read More]
Tracked on Dec 16, 2004 1:40:21 AM
» Glass House of Representatives from The Republic of T.
I'd filed this away to blog about later and then forgotten about it until my memory was jogged this afternoon. Apparently, the Federal Marriage Amendment is being stalled by the hypocrisy of some of very people backing it. Pro-family groups are se... [Read More]
Tracked on Dec 20, 2004 5:37:27 PM
Yes, Americans (Repugs anyway) really ARE nuts...
Adultery amendment indeed...
I like some of the suggestions above though... like why not have a masturbation element?
These wackjobs really HAVE to pass a law that is so stupid, unjust and illogical, plus UNENFORCEABLE, that it will totally embarrass the government AND have people coming out en masse to demonstrate against it.
Posted by: Liz from Britain | Aug 17, 2005 9:19:16 AM
Sounds like forced divorce in the event that one partner cheats, since you'd lose all benefits of marriage which must include the certificate of marriage itself. Hmmm. I've been waiting for the Christianists to overshoot. Let them have this and let's watch the great divide between the religious supporters and their secular politicians begin. I like it.
Posted by: Kathy | Dec 16, 2004 5:08:14 PM
Why not just cut to the chase and and a rider to ban divorce.
Then gays could get married without ruining str8 marriages ;-)
Posted by: Otter | Dec 16, 2004 5:59:40 AM
What about pre-marital sex? Shouldn't that be legislated too?
Posted by: Toni | Dec 12, 2004 11:55:46 PM
It's no surprise that the group touting this has the acronym of DOM.
I guess Bush Sr. will lose bennies for slipping the mickey to Fitzgerald, too. Of course, he's rich, so what does he care? But shouldn't we punish adultery with stoning? Isn't that really the OT law? Or are females the only ones who are supposed to die?
When do we start sacrificing goats to atone for sins? Will we need a Constitutional Amendment for this, or is this a matter than can be determined at the local level?
Does anyone have a bill in committee to outlaw bacon and sausage and roast pork and country ham yet? Isn't it time? hmmmmm? For the moral well being of our nation? Really, I'm sick of the immorality of pork eaters in this nation. The Bible clearly states that sausage and egg macmuffins are an abomination to the Lord.
Posted by: just say no to fascism | Dec 11, 2004 7:28:16 PM
Well, I am not sure I understand the implications. I read it that aldulterers would be denied the benifits of marriage.
So, if a man and a woman were married and then one of them committed adultery, then that one would be denied the benefits of marriage, but the other partner in the same marriage would still have the benefits of marriage.
There might be a few logical problems to work out.
One of them wouild be allowed to file a joint tax return, but the other wouldnn't, one would be allowed to visit the other in the hospital, but the other wouldn't, and so on.
Another aspect is that some states might decide to enumerate the actual benefits of marriage in that state. If some state were to exclude the benefits of civil union from the legally enumerated benefits of marriage, then some married people might also have to join in a civil union to get the benefits that married couples in other states get from marriage alone.
So, I think it is a great idea to add adulterers to the amendment.
Posted by: Ray | Dec 11, 2004 12:52:14 PM
If this passes then we are one step closer to the Taliban.
Posted by: OneWorld | Dec 11, 2004 10:00:08 AM
While we're at it, I was thinking that masturbation by men should be considered on the same level as murder, as it is willfully disposing of life-producing genetic material. Obviously, this law would not pertain to women, as they have a set number of eggs which are not affected by masturbation.
Posted by: Progressive Fringe | Dec 10, 2004 5:50:16 PM
If this amendment really is about the protection of marriage , then you are damned right it should include adultery. Adultery causes more divorves than Gay people marrying ever would.
What is the next big cause of Divorce. Maybe their should be some kind of punishment for that as well?
I would be against any mercy for the senators and congressmen or women. Adultery has been on the books for , what, 3000, 4000 years or so. This is not like some new tax law they didn't know about. Should they not be held to a higher standard. That's what the Rethugs said about Clinton, right before they were all outed as the notorious philanderers that they are.
Oh, by all means slap adultery on that puppy and watch it sink like a rock!.
Posted by: raginblue6 | Dec 10, 2004 4:25:13 PM
If we are going to legislate marriage law based upon Biblical law, can we include the laws of Deuteronomy 22:28-29 that allow a rapist to marry his victim to avoid punishment?
Posted by: bill | Dec 10, 2004 1:21:39 AM
I hope this is a joke. If not, perhaps these crazies need to consider that the greatest redefinition of marriage would be to change "till death do us part, I do" to "till death do us part, unless the government tells us it's over."
There are various reasons for the increasing divorce rate and the devaluation of marital relations. Treating people going through the painful ordeal of adultry as though they are unable too childish to determine if their marriage is salvagable is asinine and an insult to the intelligence nad moral fortitude of Americans. Anyone who votes for such an amendment should be voted out of office on account of their patronizing attitudes.
Posted by: Infuriating | Dec 9, 2004 8:47:55 PM
Thou shall not committ Adultery is one of the 10 commandments. Why not make it a part of the marriage amendment?. It is the only justification for divorce according to scripture. While we are at it just make divorce illegal accept for adultery. If we want really to santify marriage make all secular marriages illegal. Also we would have to include the practice of oral sex and anal sex by married couples as being unnatural acts and illegal.
Posted by: Ned Cummings | Dec 9, 2004 11:17:20 AM
If marriage is so sacred and blessed by the god of the Americans himself, why does it need such a battery of legislation to protect it? Why is America so vacuous and stupid that it carries on about this trivial BS as though it were the end of days. Bullets fired by American christians in Iraq have done somewhat more damage than a couple of amourous guys or a couple of philandering senators would ever do but where are the good Disneyland christians on this one!?. And you may wonder why the world thinks you are all idiots.
Posted by: Paul B | Dec 8, 2004 6:36:05 PM
No one who really wants to secure the institution of marriage would try to limit it to people who have not sinned. I don't see how even the most devout Christians could favor that, as it runs against the Christian mission to redeem sinners and turn them to a moral course. I would be surprised if this gets very far.
Posted by: Alec | Dec 8, 2004 6:18:05 PM
So, a ''youthful indiscretion'' (as Henry Hyde calls it) could be a fast form of divorce with no alimony or obligations except maybe for your now illegitimate children?
Boy, this art of legislating morality is such easy stuff.
Posted by: Dubya | Dec 8, 2004 2:18:13 PM
What a ridiculus proposal! How do they intend to enforce it? What is the burden of proof that a person has engaged in an affair? Do they have to be caught in the act? Someone takes pictures? What a bunch of crap!
I want the federal government out of my marriage and my bedroom! I am sick and tired of people dictating to me what I can and cannot do in the name of religion and moral values. Obviously these same people must have issues (like they need a law so they aren't tempted or something) with these values to feel the neccesity to legislate them.
Maybe Congress could legislate that no person in America should go to bed hungry or no City in America should have a homeless population without being fined for not providing food or shelter to fellow human beings instead of worrying about who is sleeping with who!
Posted by: Kathie | Dec 8, 2004 10:54:14 AM
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