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The lame duck congressional session

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

The Wall Street Journal recently outlined some of the issues facing Congress as it returns the week of Nov. 28: A funding bill for the U.S. government, federal assurances of access to same sex marriage and a military funding bill for next year.

The funding bill for the U.S. government is yet another stopgap attempt to fund the government. The last time the Congress completed its funding duties on time was 1996. It has come close in some recent years, but never on time for 26 years.

Want a gauge of how divided our country is, look no further than this condition. Passing a budget is the paramount reason for the existence of Congress in the first place.

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, has been treated as a separate budget item for a long time – according to the Wall Street Journal: “Congress has passed the NDAA more than 60 years in a row, typically with bipartisan support.”

That’s longer than the age of the Corvair in my garage.

The Respect for Marriage Act, as it is called, is a different sort of legislation. Marriage is a serious business, and for some (author included) a holy estate. How it gets mixed up in mundane to-do lists of budgets and other matters on a congressional agenda is an act of disrespect for all marriages, heterosexual, homosexual or any other way one wants to define marriage.

This act, again according to the Wall Street Journal, “makes it clear that religious organizations wouldn’t face consequences for refusing to host same-sex marriage ceremonies.”

Great, but what about independent cake bakers? Will they continue to be prosecuted for not being willing to bake cakes for same-sex marriage ceremonies? I think there are some in Colorado who would welcome protection from prosecution and persecution on this account. On the other hand, will gay or lesbian cake bakers be forced to bake cakes for heterosexual couples?

Codifying these issues into law reminds me of Marie Antoinette’s view of cakes. That did not turn out too well for her. However, there were other unencumbered issues at the time of old Marie’s experience in spine separation, likely occurring between her C4 and C5 vertebrae, on Oct. 16, 1793 – just over 230 years ago.

For protecting same-sex couples from persecution for their beliefs and practices, the liberal U.S. Constitution and its amendments already does this job quite adequately, starting several years before the aforementioned C4-C5 split (actually June 21, 1788). It is merely appropriate enforcement of the long existing statutes at the federal, state and local level that is needed to assure this.

Any provisions in the “The Respect for Marriage Act” are just redundant and duplicative in this case.

What the headline leaves unspoken for the unwashed masses is this new act’s protections for the provisions of government largess not in place in Ms. Antoinette’s day – social security, welfare, (possible) student loan forgiveness and all the other handouts unheard of in the days of the French Revolution. This is what the “The Respect for Marriage Act” is really all about.

But I still worry about persecution of (all of) the cake bakers.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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