Not Showing Up for Marriage Vote Will Count, Conservatives Say

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - Not showing up for Wednesday's planned votes relating to the Federal Marriage Amendment will be seen as a vote against traditional marriage, a Republican senator says.

Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, issued a statement on Tuesday, noting that the American people are watching Wednesday's planned vote -- and that Senators will be sending a message to their constituents when the roll is called.

"I think a 'yes' vote will be a vote in favor of traditional marriage, and a 'no' vote or an 'I didn't care enough to show up' vote will be perceived as against traditional marriage," Cornyn said.

In this election year, Republicans are waiting to see if Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards show up on Wednesday to vote on the controversial issue. Both men oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment, although they also have come out against same-sex marriage per se.

Republicans have criticized Kerry and Edwards for missing many senate votes in the course of their campaigning.

Sen. Cornyn has chaired three hearings on marriage in the Senate, including one last September on whether the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act is in peril; another in March on whether an amendment to the Constitution is necessary, and the third hearing, also in March, addressed specific amendment language that has been introduced in the Senate.

At the September hearing, legal experts predicted an eruption of lawsuits across the country challenging all traditional marriage laws as unconstitutional, including the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Cornyn said those legal experts agreed that the only way for Congress to reverse an "incorrect federal constitutional ruling" is to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Homosexual advocacy groups, however, have framed the proposed amendment as hateful, discriminatory and divisive.

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