Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Federal Gay Marriage Amendment Goes Down in Flames in the U.S. Senate.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - A constitutional ban on same-sex marriage failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Wednesday but Republican leaders planned to take it up in the House, keeping a national spotlight on the divisive issue.

U.S. Senators will have to answer for their positions, one sponsor of the amendment warned.

"People are going to be responsible for this vote," said Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kansas "We are making progress in America on defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman."

Indeed, the amendment was expected to gain as many as seven new votes from freshman supporters who were not members of the U.S. Senate when the amendment was last voted on in 2004.

"There's many of us who have not had an opportunity to debate and discuss this," said one of them, Senator Mel Martinez, R-Florida.

Their support is expected to produce a majority for the amendment in the 100-member chamber.

Two-thirds majority is required in both houses of Congress to send an amendment to the states. It then would have to be ratified by at least 38 states.

Still, supporters were pleased.

Forty-five of the 50 states have acted to define traditional marriage in ways that would ban same-sex marriage 19 with their own state constitutional amendments and 26 with statutes.

"Most Americans are not yet convinced that their elected representatives or the judiciary are likely to expand decisively the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples," said Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, a possible presidential candidate in 2008. He told the Senate on Tuesday he does not support the federal amendment.

The measure's defeat in the Senate is by no means its last stand, said its supporters. "Whether it passes or not this time, I do not believe the sponsors are going to fall back and cry about it," said Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "I think they are going to keep bringing it up."

The House plans a vote on the amendment next month, said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"This is an issue that is of significant importance to many Americans," Boehner told reporters. "We have significant numbers of our members who want a vote on this, so we are going to have a vote."
Like the Senate, the House in 2004 fell short of the two-thirds vote needed.

Bush, his popularity sagging and his conservative base dissatisfied with
Republicans' efforts on social issues, issued a fresh appeal for passage Tuesday, the third time in as many days.

"The administration believes that the future of marriage in America should be decided through the democratic constitutional amendment process, rather than by the court orders of a few," a
White House statement said.

Vatican also weighed in Tuesday, naming gay marriage as one of the factors threatening the traditional family as never before.

Democrats, all of whom except Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska oppose the amendment, say the debate is a divisive political ploy.

"The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose commonwealth legalized gay marriage in 2003. "A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

Hatch responded: "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"

Kentucky Equality Association chastised U.S. Representative Geoff Davis, R-Kentucky for supporting the amendment and the negative way he responded to opponents in his district.

The Kentucky Equality Association believes the anti-gay marriage movement comes from the religious belief that homosexuality is a sin, immoral, harms children, and spreads disease.

The Federal Marriage Amendment is an attack on the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which recognizes gay marriages, as well as the states of New Jersey, Vermont, California, and Connecticut, that have passed civil unions or similar partnerships.

The Kentucky Equality Association is committed to organizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and fair-minded vote throughout the commonwealth. The Associations Board of Directors ratified a statement condemning the Republican attempt to appeal to right-wing voters ahead of November's congressional ballot, and for using the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community as a political punching bag.

Same-sex couples cannot participate fully in our society if they are denied the rights and responsibilities offered to heterosexual couples.


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