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Senate Floor Statement on the Federal Marriage Amendment [Gordodn Smith, (R), OR]
Catholic Exchange, Senate Records ^ | 7-13-04 | Editors/Catholic Exchange

Posted on 07/13/2004 7:53:15 AM PDT by Salvation

Senate Floor Statement on the Federal Marriage Amendment

We present here the remarks made on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) on July 9th during consideration of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Senator Gordon’s comments epitomize the kind of statesmanship desperately needed in this country at this time. At the bottom of this article we have listed the names of senators who must hear a loud and clear signal from the people they represent regarding this vital issue.

A Legal Framework That Protects Children

[Editor's Note: Part Two of Mary Kochan’s article
“Spiritual Communication: Are There Any Do’s and Don’ts” will appear in this space next Tuesday.]

The Presiding Officer (Mr. Cornyn): The Senator from Oregon is recognized.

Mr. Smith: Mr. President, I thank Senator Allard for his willingness to change and clarify the proposal he makes today so that it leaves open to the States the elbow room that is appropriate to define legal rights for nontraditional families, gays and lesbians, and others.

It is a fact that sociologists say marriage, as we have traditionally known and practiced it, is the ideal circumstance for the creation and rearing and nurturing of children. But it is a fact that not all children have the opportunity of a family with a mother and a father, though what marriage does as a legal institution is to say to children here and those yet unborn that there is a legal framework in which they can enjoy protection and have the society of a mother and a father.

It is clear as we wrestle with this sensitive issue, it is clear to the conscience of the American people that boys and girls need moms and dads. Not all get them, but the law has provided a framework for it. Those children who do not have it should also enjoy legal protections not unlike those that are enjoyed in the institution of marriage.

In all the time that I have been a U.S. senator, I have been an advocate of gay rights. Yet throughout that time I also have believed it right to defend traditional marriage. I have tried hard to be clear, consistent, and careful about this issue and this debate. I know my position as being for gay rights but for traditional marriage is a disappointment to many of my gay and lesbian friends.

I also note for the record I get little credit from the right because I do advocate for many gay rights. Indeed, the other night on his radio program, Dr. James Dobson said to a national audience, which included many Oregonians, that I was not going to vote for traditional marriage. I wish he hadn't done that. I believe that is a form of bearing false witness because I have been clear and I have been consistent on this point. He may owe me no apology, but I wish he would make it clear to my constituents.

I make no apology for supporting many of the needs of gay and lesbian Americans. Issues of public safety, housing, employment, benefits: these are rights that we take for granted, rights which many of them have felt out of reach. So I have believed it is not just right to advocate for these things but it even be a part of my belief system to advocate for those who are oppressed and to show tolerance by helping those in need. Matthew Shephard comes to mind, and many others who have suffered hate crimes against them in the most vicious of fashion. I think our society is changing its heart on these issues in ways that Americans want to be tolerant, they want to be careful, they want to say to gays and lesbians that we love you, we include you, we care about you.

But in saying that, I think many feel intuitively to be careful on the issue of marriage. Marriage is a word. Words have meaning. Few words have more meaning to our culture and our future and our civilization than marriage because marriage ultimately is about more than just consenting adults. It is about the natural rearing and nurturing of children, preparing them for citizenship under the most ideal circumstances possible.

Senator Robert Byrd often comes to this Chamber, and I love it when he quotes Cicero, an ancient Roman senator. So I quote Cicero this morning. Cicero said very long ago, "The first bond of society is marriage." I believe Cicero was right. He was not a religious man, he was a secular man. He was a non-believer. But he also saw the incredible benefit to building up citizens of Rome through this first bond of society which was then and is still marriage.

I suppose I take this position, a nuanced position, to be sure, because I am somewhat of an old-fashioned idealist. However imperfectly practiced by the American people, marriage still is a perfect ideal. I think the American people deserve a debate on this that is civil, that is respectful, and that includes all Americans. Some have come to this floor, and will in the coming days, to hold up the Constitution. Here is a copy of it. They will say this is a sacred document, a document that should not be amended. I will admit to the Presiding Officer it would be better that we not have to do this, to even resort to a constitutional amendment. But this is what Article V of the Bill of Rights says: The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution....

It goes on.

They would not have included this Article V in the Bill of Rights if it were not intended that this be a living document. But they intended the Constitution to be a living document, and the United States has amended this Constitution 27 times. Were it not a living document, this document would have failed. Were it not subject to amendment, the most egregious kinds of actions would have been put in place that would have made us ashamed forever.

The Constitution Will Be Amended — But By Whom?

For example, perhaps the most dreadful decision ever rendered under this Constitution was that of Dred Scott. Roger B. Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, held that African Americans were not human and were the subject of property and could be controlled as property like any other chattel. That is a decision that goes down in infamy, if ever there was one. It took a Civil War and then the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution, which before was silent on the issue of slavery, to ultimately overcome this insidious practice in parts of the United States.

Some say: Well, that is a sacred thing that was done. And I agree, it was. I believe the Constitution is both sacred and secular, but living and improving, and open to debate.

I mentioned the last time the Constitution was amended was in 1992. It is the twenty-seventh amendment. It reads: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

That is the twenty-seventh amendment. It is about money. It is about salaries for Senators and Representatives. I suggest to you that may be appropriate to be in the Constitution because it went through the process, but there is nothing sacred about that.

So the question then becomes, Is it appropriate to put a definition of marriage into our Constitution? I would say, as a matter of preference, it is better not to put cultural issues in the Constitution, until you come to this question: Shall the Constitution be amended? And I tell everyone, the Constitution of the United States is about to be amended. The question is: By whom? Will it be done by a few liberal judges in Massachusetts, a lawless mayor in San Francisco, or clandestine county commissioners, or by the American people in a lawful, constitutional process, as laid out in our founding document?

You will hear lots of people beating on their chests and sounding very sanctimonious in this debate that "We should not do this or that." But the truth is, the Constitution is going to be amended. And I say: Include the American people.

Now, some also say: The issue of marriage has nothing to do with the Federal Government. Leave it to the States. My family has an interesting history in regard to leaving it to the States. My ancestors were, for the most part, Mormon pioneers who came from England in little boats, crossed the ocean, and walked across the country. They had a peculiar practice among them. It is found throughout the pages of the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. They practiced a principle they called "plural marriage." The marriages practiced by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

My great-grandfather David King Udall had two wives, one large, happy family. I am descended from the second. He came to America, helped found the State of Arizona, and spent time in prison because he violated a Federal law, the Edmunds-Tucker law from the 1870s, in which the Federal Government defined marriage as "one man and one woman." He was a great man, a great pioneer, had great sons and daughters who helped the desert of the West blossom as a rose.

He has a large posterity. He sacrificed much for the principle of his faith. But he paid a price because the Federal Government, long ago, defined what marriage was. Ultimately, Grover Cleveland pardoned him, and he named one of his sons Grover Cleveland Udall.

Some people would say this is enacting discrimination into the Constitution. Well, my progenitors were discriminated against, I guess, but the truth is, our country through a lawful process in the 1860s and 1870s defined marriage at the Federal level.

Now what is happening? What is happening in our country is we have elected officials and unelected judges reinterpreting the constitutions of their states and of our nation to find in it rights that are not mentioned in it. This has happened a lot in recent years. I have concluded it is better that these things be resolved with the American people than without them.

There Is No More Important Issue

The American people have a sense of fairness and tolerance and justice and right and wrong. What is happening is their views, their values, their beliefs, their respect for law is being trampled upon by a few liberal elites. That is not right. In my own state of Oregon, in 1862, Oregon passed its law on marriage. Mr. President, 142 years have transpired, 142 years of Oregon law and practice and custom. But what happened recently? Four or five county commissioners in one of our counties ignored 142 years of law, ignored 1,000 years and more of human history, and, without notice, without a public meeting, changed the law. To me, this is deeply disappointing and terribly undemocratic. Before this happens again, I think it is appropriate, on an issue this central to our country, to our civilization, to the future, we involve "we the people." The only way to do that is through a constitutional process.

Now, I wish this cup would pass from us. I do not like this. I love people. I believe in tolerance. But I believe in democracy. Many will tell you we should leave this alone. But if you leave this alone, you will leave it to others. And if you leave it to others, they will dictate to the American people what it has to be. The only recourse then available — when a Federal judge nullifies all state DOMA or constitutional provisions of the several states, finding an equal protection right to same-gender marriage — the only recourse then is through the constitutional process laid out by the fifth amendment in the Bill of Rights. That is how you include the American people. I say public meetings, public notice, public debates, let people vote, let their elected representatives in the several states vote on it. If we are going to change it, let's change it with the American people, not at the American people. Unfortunately, that seems to be what many who will argue against this want to happen. They want to do this to us, not with us.

For the record, let me express to my gay and lesbian friends, I don't mean to disappoint you, but I can't be true to you if I am false to my basic beliefs. I believe that marriage, as we have known and practiced it in this country for hundreds of years now, is something that should be preserved. New structures can be created, new legal rights conferred, without taking down this word that represents an ideal — not about adults but including children. I mean to hurt no one's feelings in my position. I intend to be your champion on many issues in the future, if you want me. But on this one, I have to be able to get up in the morning and look in the mirror and be true to myself.

I have spoken what I believe to be true this morning. I believe marriage is more profoundly important than we might now recognize. Before we let a few tell the many what it is going to be, I think we ought to debate it, carefully consider it, because while we debate issues of war and peace and recession and prosperity, some will say there are so many more important things to discuss than this. I say to you, there probably isn't a more important issue to discuss than the legal structure that binds men and women together for the creation and the rearing and nurturing of future generations of Americans. I make no apology for my vote for this process, for an amendment that defines marriage, because that is where it is headed, because the courts will compel it. And our legal structure gives American citizens an avenue to be included. So with my vote, I say include we the people.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum, and I ask unanimous consent that the time be equally divided between both sides.

The Presiding Officer: Without objection, it is so ordered.

Please contact the Senators listed below and ask them to vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment:

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Main District Office: (907) 271-3735
Fairbanks: (907) 456-0233
Juneau: (907) 586-7400
Kenai: (907) 283-5808
Ketchikan: (907) 225-6880
Wasilla: (907) 376-7665

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Main State Office: (602) 952-2410
Tempe: (480) 897-6289
Tucson: (520) 670-6334

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Main State Office: (501) 375-2993
Ft. Smith: (479) 782-9215
Texarkana: (870) 774-3106
Jonesboro: (870) 910-6896

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Main State Office: (501) 324-6336

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)
Main State Office: (303) 843-4100
Colorado Springs: (719) 636-9092
Ft. Collins: (970) 206-1788
Pueblo: (719) 542-6987
Grand Junction: (970) 241-6631
Durango: (970) 385-9877

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
Main State Office: (860) 549-8463

Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Main State Office: (302) 674-3308
Georgetown: (302) 856-7690
Wilmington: (302) 573-6291

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Main State Office: (407) 872-7161
Tallahassee: (850) 942-8415
Tampa: (813) 225-7040
Coral Gables: (305) 536-5999
West Palm Beach: (561) 514-0189
Jacksonville: (904) 346-4500
Ft. Lauderdale: (954) 693-4851

Senator Zell Miller (D-GA)
Main State Office: (404) 347-2202
Moultrie: (229) 985-8113
Savannah: (912) 238-3244
Young Harris: (706) 379-9950

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Main State Office: (317) 554-0750
Evansville: (812) 465-6500
Ft. Wayne: (260) 426-3151
Jeffersonville: (812) 218-2317
Hammond: (219) 852-2763
South Bend: (574) 236-8302

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Main State Office: (317) 226-5555
Jeffersonville: (812) 288-3377
Ft. Wayne: (260) 422-1505
Valparaiso: (219) 548-8035
Evansville: (812) 465-6313

Senator John Breaux (D-LA)
Main State Office: (504) 589-2531
Baton Rouge: (225) 248-0104
Lafayette: (337) 262-6871
Monroe: (318) 325-3320

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Main State Office: (504) 589-2427
Baton Rouge: (225) 389-0395
Shreveport: (318) 676-3085
Lake Charles: (337) 436-6650

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Main State Office: (207) 945-0417
Augusta: (207) 622-8414
Biddeford: (207) 283-1101
Lewiston: (207) 784-6969
Caribou: (207) 493-7873
Portland: (207) 780-3575

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Main State Office: (207) 874-0883
Auburn: (207) 786-2451
Augusta: (207) 622-8292
Bangor: (207) 945-0432
Biddeford: (207) 282-4144
Presque Isle: (207) 764-5124

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
Main State Office: (313) 226-6020
Saginaw: (989) 754-2494
Lansing: (517) 377-1508
Grand Rapids: (616) 456-2531
Warren: (586) 573-9145
Escanaba: (906) 789-0052
Traverse City: (231) 947-9569

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Main State Office: (517) 203-1760
Traverse City: (231) 929-1031
Flint: (810) 720-4172
Detroit: (313) 961-4330
Grand Rapids: (616) 975-0052
Marquette: (906) 228-8756

Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
Metro Area Office
Federal Building, Suite 298
Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111
Phone: 612-727-5220
Toll free: 888-224-9043

Northeast Regional Office
222 Main Street, Suite 200
Post Office Box 937
Biwabik, Minnesota 55708
Phone: 218-865-4480

Northwest Regional Office
401 DeMers Avenue
East Grand Forks, Minnesota 56721
Phone: 218-773-1110

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Main State Office: (406) 657-6790
Helena: (406) 449-5480
Missoula: (406) 329-3123
Kalispell: (406) 756-1150
Bozeman: (406) 586-6104
Butte: (406) 782-8700
Great Falls: (406) 761-1574

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Main State Office: (402) 758-8981
Lincoln: (402) 476-1400
Scottsbluff: (308) 632-6032
Kearney: (308) 236-7602

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Main State Office: (402) 441-4600
Omaha: (402) 391-3411
Chadron: (308) 260-2278
Scottsbluff: (308) 631-7614

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
Main State Office: (702) 388-5020
Reno: (775) 686-5750
Carson City: (775) 882-7343

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Main State Office: (603) 225-7115
Berlin: (603) 752-2604
Manchester: (603) 622-7979
Portsmouth: (603) 431-2171

Senator John Sununu (R-NH)
Main State Office: (603) 647-7500
Portsmouth: (603) 430-9560
Berlin: (603) 752-6074
Claremont: (603) 542-4872

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Main State Office: (701) 258-4648
Fargo: (701) 232-8030
Fax: (701) 232-6449
Grand Forks: (701) 775-9601
Minot: (701) 852-0703

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Main State Office: (701) 250-4618
Grand Forks: (701) 746-8972
Fargo: (701) 239-5389
Minot: (701) 852-0703

Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Main State Office: (614) 469-5186
Cincinnati: (513) 763-8260
Cleveland: (216) 522-7272
Toledo: (419) 259-7536
Marietta: (740) 373-2317
Xenia: (937) 376-3080

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)
Main State Office: (614) 469-6697
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095
Cincinnati: (513) 684-3265
Toledo: (419) 259-3895
Gallipolis: (740) 441-6410

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Main State Office: (215) 597-7200
Erie: (814) 453-3010
Allentown: (610) 434-1444
Wilkes Barre: (570) 826-6255
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951
Pittsburgh: (412) 644-3400
Scranton: (570) 346-2006

Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
Main State Office: (401) 453-5294
Newport: (401) 845-0700

Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC)
Main State Office: (803) 765-5731
Charleston: (843) 727-4525
Greenville: (864) 233-5366

Senator Thomas Daschle (D-SD)
Main State Office: (605) 334-9596
Aberdeen: (605) 225-8823
Rapid City: (605) 348-7551

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Main State Office: (605) 332-8896
Aberdeen: (605) 226-3440
Rapid City: (605) 341-3990

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Main State Office: (615) 736-5129
Knoxville: (865) 545-4253
Memphis: (901) 544-4224
Chattanooga: (423) 752-5337
Jackson: (731) 423-9344
Blountville: (423) 325-6240

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Main State Office: (304) 342-5855

Senator John Rockefeller IV (D-WV)
Main State Office: (304) 347-5372
Beckley: (304) 253-9704
Fairmont: (304) 367-0122
Martinsburg: (304) 262-9285

Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)
Main State Office: (307) 261-6413
Cheyenne: (307) 772-2451
Rock Springs: (307) 362-5012
Riverton: (307) 856-6642
Sheridan: (307) 672-6456

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: Oregon
KEYWORDS: amendment; federal; fma; gordonsmith; marriage; marriageamendment; prayerlist
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For your information and continuing action on this!
1 posted on 07/13/2004 7:53:20 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: Salvation

Does anyone have any idea how many votes we have so far?

2 posted on 07/13/2004 7:55:09 AM PDT by Josh in PA
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To: All
Is your Senator on the list above?

Then give them a call, send them a fax, send them an email!

Calls and faxes are best!

U. S. Senate

3 posted on 07/13/2004 7:55:29 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Josh in PA

I don't think we are up to the 67 required for an amendment.

4 posted on 07/13/2004 7:56:54 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; goldenstategirl; ...
Action Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Action Ping List.

5 posted on 07/13/2004 7:59:39 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Coleus;; Howlin; PhiKapMom; JohnHuang2; xzins; trussell

Please ping your lists.

6 posted on 07/13/2004 8:00:59 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

It's not exactly how I would have said it (not even close) but I'll take it. Thank you Senator!

7 posted on 07/13/2004 8:04:58 AM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Legislatures are so outdated. If you want real political victory, take your issue to court.)
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To: Salvation

Except for the token pandering to the gay/lesbo crowd, that is one of the greatest arguments I've heard yet for Constitutional definition of marriage.

8 posted on 07/13/2004 8:05:06 AM PDT by ICX (The Dem VP race is like a wildebeest giving birth - it's ugly, loud, and ultimately doesn't matter.)
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Indeed, the family matters!

9 posted on 07/13/2004 8:07:25 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: kjenerette; Van Jenerette

For your file.

10 posted on 07/13/2004 8:08:19 AM PDT by Van Jenerette (Our Republic - If we can Keep it!)
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To: All

** However imperfectly practiced by the American people, marriage still is a perfect ideal.**

Please contact your Senator to support the traditional ideal of marriage between an man and a woman.

11 posted on 07/13/2004 8:13:57 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; *prayer_list; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; Accountable One; AKA Elena; Alabama_Wild_Man; ...

Prayer ping.

My prayers going up now

Salvation, Thank you for the ping.


If you want on or off my prayer ping list, please let me know. All requests happily honored.

12 posted on 07/13/2004 8:16:10 AM PDT by trussell (If stupidity was actually painful, some people would be on a permanent lidocane drip.)
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To: Salvation
what marriage does as a legal institution is to say to children here and those yet unborn that there is a legal framework in which they can enjoy protection and have the society of a mother and a father.

but ... the corollary is ...

what divorce does as a legal institution is to say to children here and those yet unborn that there is a legal framework in which they can lose protection and ...

If marriage must be defended -- constitutionally -- as a "legal institution," the meaning of "marriage" is lost.

13 posted on 07/13/2004 8:18:06 AM PDT by Stagerite (The Democratic Party line: "Nothing is worth fighting for.")
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To: trussell

Thanks trussell

This amendment needs all the help it can get.

14 posted on 07/13/2004 8:19:57 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Stagerite

divorce v. marriage will always be an issue.

This is about strengthening traditional marriage between and man and a woman.

15 posted on 07/13/2004 8:21:32 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: trussell

I join in prayer for our country.

16 posted on 07/13/2004 8:30:20 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Salvation
This is about strengthening traditional marriage between and man and a woman.

If you want to strengthen marriage, outlaw divorce.

The proposed amemdment involves the denial of rights to human beings.

17 posted on 07/13/2004 8:37:47 AM PDT by Stagerite (The Democratic Party line: "Nothing is worth fighting for.")
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To: Salvation; Badray

Badray, is there a pa ping list for folks to swamp Specter with calls concerning this?

18 posted on 07/13/2004 8:38:57 AM PDT by Boxsford
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To: Salvation; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...

19 posted on 07/13/2004 9:29:04 AM PDT by Coleus (Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer.)
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To: Salvation

Senator Gordon mentions that the amendment was changed. How was it changed?

20 posted on 07/13/2004 9:35:00 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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