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Dobbs: Gay marriage amendment sheer nonsense

By Lou Dobbs
CNN

Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears every Wednesday on CNN.com.

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Lou Dobbs says Washington shouldn't be spending its time on issues like same-sex marriage.

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Lou Dobbs

NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Bush this week urged Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, at a time when the United States faces some of the greatest challenges in our nation's history.

So, logically, what could possibly better ensure the prosperous and bright future of working men and women and their families than for the Senate to work on a constitutional amendment that is guaranteed to fail?

It's clear that cynical, patronizing White House political strategists are trying to rally a conservative base that they believe is more base than conservative. They're wrong on all counts.

We're fighting a war against radical Islamist terrorists with ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're drowning in debt from our growing record trade and budget deficits and we're watching our public education system fail a generation of students. Congress has yet to act on an effective solution to our illegal immigration crisis as millions of illegal aliens flood our borders every year, and our nation's borders and ports are still woefully insecure, four and a half years after the September 11 attacks.

I believe most Americans are far more concerned about their declining real wages and the lack of real creation of quality jobs than the insulting insertion of wedge issues into the national dialogue and political agenda.

But President Bush and the Senate have decided they should take up a constitutional ban of gay marriage. Polls tell us most of us oppose gay marriage. Those same polls are also shouting to our elected representatives in Washington that we want real leadership and real solutions to real problems.

The president and the Senate's Republican leadership are now claiming that an amendment to our Constitution is necessary to save the American family. No matter how you feel about the issue, and many of us feel deeply, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is utter and complete nonsense. It's an insult to the intelligence of every voter, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.

The president and the Senate are focusing on one of the few reasons that has not been proven to cause divorce. They instead should look to financial hardships, and the lack of communication about family finances. The median family income is stagnating while gasoline costs and higher interest rates are eating up the family budget.

Nor is the Senate looking at the national tragedy of out-of-wedlock births: In seven states, more than 40 percent of our children are born out of wedlock. Nationally, more than one out of three of our children are born to unmarried parents.

Both political parties love to excite and enliven their so-called "bases" by focusing on wedge issues like gay marriage, abortion, gun control, school prayer and flag burning. Both the Republicans and Democrats raise these issues to distract and divert public attention from the pressing issues that affect our way of life and our nation's future.

Are these wedge issues really how Congress should be spending its time, especially given how little time politicians spend in Washington, D.C., these days? I'd rather see our 535 elected representatives and this president use their time to combat poverty, fix our crumbling schools, secure our broken borders and ports and hold employers accountable for hiring illegal aliens. And like millions of Americans, I am desperate for a resolution to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How can we tolerate elected officials who press wedge issues when 37 million people in the United States live in poverty, one in every eight Americans? Almost 18 percent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty -- 13 million children.

Nearly 46 million people live without health insurance, about 16 percent of the population, a number that has risen by 6 million since 2000. More than one in 10 children are uninsured, and one-quarter of people with incomes below $25,000 also lack any health insurance.

College costs are skyrocketing. There's been a 40 percent jump (inflation-adjusted) in tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities over the past five years, according to the College Board. The costs for brand-name prescription drugs have also increased twice as fast as the rate of inflation. In fact, over the past six years, the average rise in the price of brand-name drugs is 40 percent, according to the AARP.

But while these increases in the price of the basics make it harder for hard-working men and women to make ends meet, the president and Congress would rather drive wedge issues than work toward real solutions.

I wonder if the president's political advisers know just how ill-advised and smarmy this wedge issue looks to the millions of us who want solutions to the critical, urgent problems facing this nation. Worse, I wonder if they even care.

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