Vote Likely to Strain Falwell-McCain Marriage

June 9, 2006 · 12:02 AM EDT

The recent marriage of two former political foes may already be over. Or at least the relationship got a bit more complicated with Wednesday’s Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment.

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) received plenty of attention when he accepted the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s invitation and spoke at Liberty University’s commencement ceremonies on May 13. McCain’s appearance seemed to signal a new relationship between the former adversaries and at least showed a willingness by Falwell to support the senator in the 2008 presidential contest. (He said the invitation was not an endorsement.)

But on Tuesday, before the vote, Falwell gave his thoughts on the potential fallout from the Marriage Protection Amendment fight. “I want to see where everyone stands. It’s my opinion that anyone in the Senate running on the national level will be committing political suicide by voting against it,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As expected, the amendment failed, by a 49-48 vote, with three senators not voting.

Senator John McCain was among the senators voting against the amendment.

Falwell’s strong statement has obvious implications for McCain. Either Falwell will continue to speak positively about McCain and project an openness to supporting him for president. Or, Falwell will back away from the Senator, work actively to make sure he does not win in 2008, and match his actions with his statement about the importance of the marriage vote.

Overall for McCain, this vote will likely stall, if not hinder his recent outreach to the socially conservative Republicans he needs to win the Republican presidential nomination.

This item first appeared on Political Wire on June 7, 2006.