The day after New York passed its landmark marriage equality bill, Michelle Bachmann was on Fox News to
discuss bash it. During her interview she comes out as being for States’ rights before being against them. She believes that the states have the right to pass laws the way New York did, but then in the next breath promises to support an amendment to the Constitution to overturn the states’ ability to do so because she fears that gay marriage equality will spread to other states via the Judicial system.
With these statements, she tells us more than she intended to. First, it is clear from this that she does not believe the Judiciary is a co-equal branch of government. In her world, there is no need for checks and balances. Second, she doesn’t believe that the Defense of Marriage Act, more commonly known as DOMA, will stand up against judicial scrutiny. Without DOMA, the passage of marriage equality in New York would mean that my home state of Pennsylvania would have to recognize my marriage under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution if I drove to Buffalo to get hitched. But most importantly, it shows that Michelle Bachmann doesn’t understand math.
To enact an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the act must first pass both houses of Congress by a two thirds vote. After that, the act must be ratified by three fourths of the states. Michelle Bachmann calls passing an amendment to the Constitution “tough”. For Michelle’s Pet Amendment, it’s not just tough, it’s impossible. Let’s do the math.
To pass the Senate, the act must have an aye vote from 67 Senators. The current make up of the Senate is 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents who vote with the Democrats. The Republicans would have to convince 20 Democrats to defect to their side before the Marriage Amendment would pass the Senate. There are 22 Democratic senators (plus both Independents) up for reelection in 2012. If Michelle thinks the Republicans will win 20 out of 22 of those seats (and lose none of the Republican ones), she is delusional.
To pass the House of Representatives, the act must have an aye vote from 290 representatives. There are currently 240 Republicans in the House. They would have hold all of those 240 plus win and hold 50 additional seats between now and 2012 with no members resigning for under stall foot tapping. To put that in perspective, 2010 was the largest swing of the party membership in the House in 72 years and they gained 63 seats. The problem for Republicans is those kinds of results are hard to duplicate and they pretty much shot their wad for a gain that large in 2010. We’ll list the Marriage Amendment passing the house as beyond extremely unlikely.
Let’s look at the states:
To win ratification, Michelle needs to convince a majority of the legislatures in three fourths (38) of the states. For the marriage amendment to be defeated we need to win in only 13 states. Six states already have gay marriage, so Michelle can count those states as lost. Even in Iowa, which is a fairly conservative state, the state legislature’s majority is currently sympathetic to our cause. So we only need to find another 7 states to vote on our side.
Think about these states for a moment and think if you can picture them voting for this amendment:
New Jersey – has civil unions
California – has civil unions
Delaware – has civil unions
Rhode Island – passed civil unions today
Illinois – has civil unions
Oregon – has civil unions
Connecticut – has civil unions
Maine – has civil unions
New Hampshire – has civil unions
Washington – has civil unions
Maryland – both houses of legislature are Democrat majority
Hawaii – both houses of legislature are Democrat super majority
Can you imagine at least 7 of those states not voting the amendment down? Remember, the vote for an amendment is not a popular vote of the people at large, but a vote of the legislatures currently in office. As more and more people become comfortable with gay marriage as our inclusion into the institution grows, the list above will grow as well. None of this is to say that we should be letting down our guard or stopping the fight for equal rights. However, with the passage of marriage equality, the tide is now decidedly on our side and the math for Michelle Bachmann has gotten tremendously harder.