Still, the opponents of gay marriage say they are puzzling over why such a volatile cultural issue is not spurring more rank-and-file conservative Christians to rise up in support of the amendment. They are especially frustrated, they say, because opinion polls show that a large majority of voters oppose gay marriage.
"Our side is basically asleep right now," Matt Daniels, founder of the Alliance for Marriage, which helped draft the proposed amendment, said in an interview last week.
The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said: "I don't see any traction. The calls aren't coming in and I am not sure why."
Some conservatives warn that the Christian leaders rallying behind the amendment may now face a loss of credibility. Their influence with evangelical believers is a subject of keen interest in Washington, in part because the Bush campaign has made ensuring their turnout at the polls a top priority.
"The danger from the beginning was that if you make your stand on the amendment and you don't win, then you may have undercut your position," said Richard Lessner, the executive director of the American Conservative Union and a former official of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative group. "They have staked so much on it, they have put all these eggs in one basket and now they are going to lose."
Gay rights groups argue that social conservatives in Washington overestimated the level of anxiety about gay marriage among their supporters. "Other issues are far more important to most Americans, including evangelicals — issues like the economy, jobs, health care, the war in Iraq," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Meanwhile the Massachusetts weddings continue and polls in Massachusetts show that opposition to gay marriage is going down.