THE GOP BASE IS UNIMPRESSED….Just to follow up on an item from yesterday, I suggested that the religious right would not be terribly impressed with the president speaking out in support of the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment at the last minute. Given the reactions yesterday from some leading activists, I think I understated the case.

“I’m going to go and hear what he says, but we already know it is a ruse,” said Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, which opposes gay marriage. “We’re not buying it. We’re going to go and watch the dog-and-pony show, [but] it’s too little, too late.”

Of particular interest in the LA Times report, however, was not just displeasure with the Bush White House from the GOP base, but an under-reported division among conservatives over the anti-gay amendment itself. To be sure, most conservatives love the idea of writing a gay-marriage ban into constitutional stone, but some far-right heavy-hitters are balking — because it’s not harsh enough.

At least two prominent social conservative groups — Concerned Women for America and the Traditional Values Coalition — believe the language contains a loophole that would allow gays to seek civil unions. […]

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, and others say the second sentence leaves open the option that gays and lesbians could enter unions other than marriage; and that’s a deal breaker for them.

On its website, the Concerned Women for America says it “does not support the Marriage Protection Amendment as currently worded because the second sentence is open to differing interpretations.”

Does it? Well, there are some competing ideas on the subject.

The proposed amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this 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.”

Apparently, under some conservatives’ reading of the text, some states might still be able to recognize gay relationships in some legal way. That, in and of itself, is so troubling that they’re withholding their support for the amendment.

For what it’s worth, the Human Rights Campaign believes the opposite and has told amendment opponents that legal scholars believe the FMA “could forever invalidate civil unions or other legal protections for same-sex couples, like the right to partner health benefits or fair taxation upon the death of a partner – even if state legislatures passed them and voters approved them.”

It’s just one more thing to argue over before Tuesday’s vote.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.