President Bush and congressional Republicans spent last week pushing for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
A similar measure failed in 2004 when both the House and Senate voted it down. This time, the Senate voted 49 to 48 to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, with seven Republicans joining 41 Democrats to vote it down. Now the resolution has been sent to the House for debate and vote.
Christian Right groups, who represent a large constituent of Bush supporters, have expressed unease for the President's apathy concerning the issue. The proposal comes just months before mid term elections when Republicans are scrambling to maintain a majority in the House and Senate.
Why does it matter?
"The issue's importance cannot be underestimated," says Todd Evans, president and CEO of Rivendell Media, a gay and lesbian media outlet, "because this is the type of issue that can really galvanize gay and lesbian media and reinvigorate the cause of gay and lesbian rights."
Evans encourages PR pros trying to reach out to the gay and lesbian audience to take hold of this issue and pursue the market because readers of gay and lesbian media will respect the effort to address an issue with such a controversial nature.
"This is a good thing, even from a gay perspective," says Evans, "because it reveals Bush's true nature. He realizes this is going to push the right buttons with the core constituency."
1 Two years ago, an amendment banning gay marriage drew just 48 votes in the Senate. Supporters were hoping to get four additional votes this year, from Republicans who have replaced Democrats in the Senate.
2 In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in March, 51% of adults nationwide said they oppose gay marriage.
3 In May 2004, Massachusetts performed the first state-sanctioned gay marriages in the nation. It remains the only state in the nation where gay marriage is legal.
4 There is a similar controversy happening in Australia, where according to Australian press, Prime Minister John Howard says the nation shouldn't equate civil unions with marriage. Legal battles concerning the issue are also occurring in Ireland and the UK.
5 Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain are the only countries that recognize same-sex marriages. South Africa passed a law to recognize the unions that goes into effect in December.