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Huelskamp still on the fringe

House tea party leader’s clout is marginal

By The Mercury

We’re not surprised that Representative Tim Huelskamp has proposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He introduced his measure not long after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year.

Nor are we surprised that Rep. Huelskamp, a leader among tea party House members, has found 49 co-sponsors, almost half of whom joined his cause last month. For the most part, they’re tea partiers or extreme conservatives.

But we’re at least a little surprised that none of Kansas’ other House members — all of whom have campaigned as conservatives — are among the co-sponsors of Rep. Huelskamp’s proposed marriage ban.

Our sense — based on Rep. Huelskamp’s reputation in both the Kansas Legislature and Congress — is that they’re wary of being lumped in with him. Their reactions to press inquires about co-sponsoring the amendment were intriguing.

Fourth District Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Wichita Republican, said, “I strongly believe in defending traditional marriage as between a man and a woman, and am looking at this amendment carefully.”

There’s not much to look at in terms of the amendment itself. It’s straightforward: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

Could be Rep. Pompeo is looking carefully at the potential downside — not so much in Kansas, which is about as red as a state can get, but in the House of Representatives. It’s led by Speaker John Boehner, who last year wasted little time in demonstrating his disdain for Rep. Huelskamp. Rep. Huelskamp has been outspoken in his criticism of the speaker for having pursued budget compromises with President Barack Obama. Partly as a result, Rep. Boehner last December removed Rep. Huelskamp from the influential House Agriculture and Budget committees.

As for our state’s other two House members —  2nd District Rep. Lynn Jenkins and 3rd District Rep. Kevin Yoder — their offices chose to decline comment about joining Rep. Huelskamp’s co-sponsors.

Perhaps they consider him radioactive. And perhaps they recognize that Rep. Huelskamp’s proposal has no chance of getting through Congress and becoming part of the Constitution. Maybe they’d rather invest their energy and political capital on issues that have some prospect of success.

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