The Note: Kissing Ben Nelson

WASHINGTON, June 5

Miles O'Brien may not necessarily understand why allowing same-sex couples to marry is threatening to other people, but President Bush seems to know.

Although Bush's profane "friend" told Newsweek that, uhm, the President doesn't care a whit about the issue. Which isn't true. LINK

But at the Gang of 500 brunch at Lauriol Plaza yesterday, there were LOTS of gay couples and an acceptance of the homo-sex-ual lifestyle and no one seemed to think it was odd, and there was no queasiness, and, as best we could tell, no one turned into a pillar of salt.

In any case, some members of the media are convinced that President Bush and Karl Rove and Sen./Dr./Leader Frist are taking cynical advantage of the Massachusetts Supreme Court's power play in order to "pay off" their easily led, home-schooled, conservative Christian supporters, who will punish them at the ballot box in November by staying home if they aren't catered to with losing Capitol Hill votes, because the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected or, or. . . or. . .

We'll let the Big Man explain it to you fifteen minutes before the Senate convenes and takes up the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, when President Bush is scheduled to make remarks on the topic in the EEOB at 1:45 pm ET before a group of supporters of the ban.

(Place your bets now on whether he gets cable roadblock coverage or not.)

But this matter ain't the only hot button that will be pressed this work as part of the Republican conspiracy.

If banning same sex marriage and flag burning and repealing the estate tax doesn't gin up the conservative base of the Republican Party, what will? Perhaps immigration -- the other dominant White House issue of the week -- but not likely in the way the folks at 1600 prefer.

"Starting today, we'll see the debate and potentially votes on the Senate floor on two proposals for constitutional amendments -- one to enshrine the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman and the other to ban flag burning (which will come at the end of the month). The debates on these should take all week. It is unclear when actual votes will occur -- perhaps Wednesday for the same-sex marriage ban. What is clear is how those votes will turn out:," writes ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf - our man on the Hill.

"Republican leaders do not have the votes to pass either of these amendments through the Senate, much less the House and 3/4s of the state legislatures."

The marriage amendment vote could come as early as Wednesday and Sen. Frist's office expects a procedural vote on the full repeal of the estate tax to occur by Thursday. (Paul Krugman reminds readers of his New York Times column how Hurricane Katrina scuttled the last planned vote on the estate tax and urges the Senate to defeat the repeal attempt with specific shout-outs ("call-outs," really) to McCain, Baucus, and Chafee. LINK)

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) holds a 10:30 am ET Capitol Hill news conference on the marriage amendment.

The Human Rights Campaign has organized a 1:00 pm ET press conference on the West Front of the US Capitol with "working Americans" who are expected to oppose the amendment and urge Congress to "get back to America's priorities"

For those who can't wait for ABC News' latest poll results on same-sex marriage -- set to be released at 5:00 pm ET -- here's a quick summary, courtesy of ABC News polling director Gary Langer, of what we know:

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