A round-up of highlights on the Federal Marriage Amendment, FMA (for those of you who may have missed some of these in the comments section).

1. The Text of the President's proposed Amendment:

"SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

2. Many conservatives have noted that the media's coverage of this story is from the poltical angle (that is, "here are the political reasons why the President is advancing this proposal") rather than a discussion of the issue in question.

Rod Dreher commenting on his blog yesterday, agreed with the President in principle (in this post ), but took GOP strategists to task for cynically "appealing to anti-gay prejudice [and] stoking an emotional issue transparently for political gain." Today, Dreher expertly points out how cynical the Democrats are in their rhetoric (in this post).

Dennis Prager had a great piece on Real Clear Politics today, in which he offered an extremely cogent analysis of the question, the division and the issue:

In part:
"Some of those who want a constitutional amendment to define marriage as man-woman are indeed bigoted against gays, regarding them as something less than fully human. But most people who want to maintain marriage as male-female consider homosexuals to be just as much created in the image of God as anyone else. But though it is painful for us to see a perfectly decent homosexual unable to marry a person of the same sex, we are nevertheless more preoccupied with:

"(1) Giving every child the opportunity to at least begin life with a mother and father; (2) Honoring the will of the great majority of Americans, secular and religious, liberal and conservative, to preserve the man-woman marital ideal, and not allow a judge to single-handedly destroy that ideal; (3) Preserving the ability of teachers and clergy to tell the story of marriage to young children in terms of a man and woman and not confuse the vast majority of kids who are forming their vision of marriage and sexuality.

"These preoccupations are neither bigoted nor radical. They are, in our view, civilization-saving.

"As for the liberals' view that gas prices are more important than society's definition of marriage, it is so self-incriminating that no response is needed."

The full Prager article.

3. Is this conservative? The RCP Blog roundup featured this from Charles Krauthammer, who appeared on FOX News with Britt Hume last night:

"But I think the answer is not a constitutional amendment, which would be in the name of the popular sovereignty, but ironically, it takes it away, because if you ever had a state in which a majority wanted to institute gay marriage, it would not be allowed to under this constitution. So it's a little bit contradictory, to act in the name of popular sovereignty and to pass a law which would extinguish.

"The way you do it is change the ethos of the judiciary so that if you get the Defense of Marriage Act, which he spoke about earlier, at the Supreme Court, it's upheld and that it keeps it in one state and doesn't spread it all over the country. And having a president who nominates a guy like Sam Alito is a way in which we change that culture rather than changing the constitution."

4. And along those lines (from yesterday), there was much citing of previous articles by George Will and James Q. Wilson:

A. Arlen Specter praised this James Q. Wilson's article (from March of this year) lambasting the destructive impact of the Roe decision and coupling abortion with same-sex marriage as "contentious social issues," which "should be decided in state legislatures, not in the courts or through constitutional amendments."

Here is the brief essay in full (from the AEI website).

The following is the portion that speaks most specifically to this question:

"The states should also decide about gay marriage. Some conservatives are urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment banning this, but this would be a mistake. People should vote on this matter and about the conditions of life they wish to experience where they live. Though I oppose gay marriage, voters in some states may approve it. If they do, we will have a chance to learn what it means in practice, with the costs and benefits falling on people who have accepted it.

Moreover, a state-by-state vote on the matter provides an opportunity for gay advocates of this policy to make their case. A constitutional amendment would deny them that opportunity, leaving them perpetually angry. Since feelings run high on this matter, it would be a mistake to let it be decided as the right to abortion was decided. If there were the gay marriage equivalent of Roe v. Wade or a constitutional ban on it, we would infect the nation with the divisive anger that followed Roe and our earlier attempt at alcohol prohibition.

If there is to be a constitutional amendment, it would be better if it said this: “Nothing in this Constitution shall authorize a federal judge to decide that a marriage can be other than between one man and one woman.” If I could think of language to bar judges from making other social policy decisions, I would add it, but the words fail me.

The rising demand that every personal preference become a constitutional right is a worrisome disease. People, of course, do have rights; the Constitution and the first ten amendments spell most of them out. That document defines the essential requirements of life and liberty. Adding new invented rights by either a ratified amendment or judicial overreaching is a mistake."

B. Also quoted frequently yesterday by opponents of the President's proposed amendment, was George Will's late-2003 essay that appeared soon after the Massachusetts ruling.

In full here.

In a nutshell:

Will argued many of the same points bemoned in this space recently in re the sorry state of marriage in America, and asserted that the case for "protection of marriage" through a Constitutional amendment rests on two "unproven" premises:

"One is that law can do what the culture -- immensely powerful and largely autonomous -- has undone. The other is that the social goods and individual virtues that marriage is supposed to buttress are best served by excluding same-sex couples from the culture of marriage, lest that culture be even more altered than it recently has been."