Sen. Allen Campaigns on Virginia Marriage Amendment

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - A court ruling that may lead to same-sex marriage -- or civil unions -- in New Jersey further highlights the importance of passing the marriage protection amendment in Virginia, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) says.

In the final days of his difficult campaign, Allen also emphasized the need for judges who operate with restraint and with respect for the "will of the people."

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Oct. that same-sex couples are entitled to the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. In a 4-3 ruling, the court gave the New Jersey legislature 180 days to revise state marriage laws.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the court decision was the byproduct of a "results-oriented court" that ignores statutes.

"The court effectively destroys marriage by pretending there is nothing unique in its nature as it relates to men and women," Fitton told Cybercast News Service. "They're saying marriage is nothing more than name."

The marriage protection amendment in Virginia is necessary, according to Allen, because it will pre-empt activist judges. The Republican senator recently signed off on the "fair judiciary oath," which includes a pledge to refrain from the use of filibusters against judicial nominees in the U.S. Senate and instead allow an up and down vote.

The oath is the handiwork of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, an umbrella organization for hundreds of conservative organizations including Focus on the Family and the American Conservative Union.

"There is a clear difference here between me and my opponent," Allen said. "I support protecting marriage from judges who do not understand their role, which is to interpret the law, not invent the law. My opponent does not."

Allen's opponent is Jim Webb, a Republican turned Democrat who served as Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

In a series of radio ads, Webb has said he "believes marriage is between a man and woman." The Allen campaign claims that Webb is against the amendment, however, and repeated attempts in recent days to have the Webb campaign clarify the candidate's position were unsuccessful.

With another opening on the Supreme Court a distinct possibility in the next two years, Allen has been emphasizing his support for "judicial nominees committed to the rule of law."

Allen supported Justice Samuel Alito, the president's latest nominee to the high court. In a debate between the candidates, Webb indicated he would have supported a filibuster of Alito. The Democratic candidate has so far declined to sign the oath.

In New Jersey Tom Kean Jr., a state senator, has come out in favor of a state marriage amendment as a remedy to the recent court ruling. Kean, a Republican, is challenging incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)

"I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman and I would support legislation re-affirming that definition," Kean told Cybercast News Service . "I would also support an amendment to the state constitution."

'National security'

For some Allen supporters who turned out to greet him at the Norfolk, Va., airport on Monday, the senator's support for President Bush was viewed as a political asset, not a liability as the Webb campaign has claimed.

"I do not want to be attacked by terrorists again and President Bush has done a good job preventing this," said Rhoda Vail of Norfolk. "Senator Allen supports President Bush's agenda, which are the same national security policies important to me," she said.

Addressing supporters with a football in hand, Allen said that both he and fellow Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner -- standing alongside him -- "believe that Iraq cannot become a safe haven [for terrorists]."

"We want our soldiers coming home in victory, not defeat."

The Allen-Webb contest is considered one of the closest Senate races in the country.

Attorney General Bob McDonnell told Cybercast News Service that the outcome would "ultimately come down to voter turnout," and he voiced optimism that Allen's recent round on key issues had boosted his campaign.

Allen supporters in Norfolk were as likely to be sporting stickers in support of a marriage amendment as "Allen for Senate" messages.

Asked what issue was most pressing when it came to her ballot choice, Ann Millen of Norfolk cited the "one man plus one woman" issue.

"This protection was not provided in Maryland and we do not want the same to happen in Virginia. We want to protect our families."

(Jen Bekemeier from Norfolk contributed to this report.)

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