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Anti-Gay FMA Fails

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Anti-Gay FMA Fails

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

July 18, 2006 - 2:35 pm ET, Updated 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The measure fell 47 votes short of the two-thirds majority they needed.

The failure came despite an appeal from the White House.

"When activist judges insist on redefining the fundamental institution of marriage for their states or potentially for the entire country, the only alternative left to make the people's voice heard is an amendment of the Constitution," said a statement issued by the Administration.

The proposed amendment said that "marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the 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."

A similar proposed amendment failed to get enough votes last month in the Senate.

At the opening of Tuesday's debate, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga, said that despite the impending loss holding the vote was important.

"This vote will serve as an opportunity for each and every member of this body to go on record in support or in opposition to protecting the traditional definition of marriage," said Gingrey.

"This bill, to put it simply and bluntly, is about adding discrimination and intolerance to the United States Constitution," said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass.

Congressman Marty Meehan, another Massachusetts Democrat, cited a couple from his district that have been together for 19 years, "17 of which they were treated as second class citizens under the law." But after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts two years ago, "they got married, and now this happy couple has health insurance, they have coverage, they have family visitation and inheritance rights that every other married couple in America have," Congressman Meehan said.

"Today, as Americans focus on the grave situation in the Middle East, record oil prices and record federal debt, the leadership of the House continues to ignore the real challenges facing American families," said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., one of the few openly gay members of Congress.

Earlier in the day LGBT civil rights activists delivered 180,000 postcards to Congressional offices, asking legislators to vote no.

"Using the Constitution to treat same-sex couples as second-class citizens is wrong and inexcusable," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“We hope all members of Congress and the American people think hard about what truly is at stake here," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman.

"Denying one group of Americans the family recognition granted to others would reverse the course of our nation’s history of expanding equal rights. It would condemn one group to a lesser citizenship and deny them the social support our society has constructed to help families and children flourish. Gay and lesbian families need and deserve the kind of protection and support we currently extend to other families. Let’s start acknowledging that truth. Let’s start talking about it, and let’s start doing it because it is the right thing to do.”

Gay Democrats and Republicans hailed the failure of the vote.

"Marriage is an institution that strengthens the American family, and it should be legally extended to all couples," said Jo Wyrick, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director.

"Americans should be allowed the freedom to discuss this issue at their dinner tables and in their houses of worship. Instead, Republicans would rather use this debate to divide the public through poor policy that attacks the Constitution. House Republicans have twice failed to force through this discriminatory amendment, just as they continue to fail the American public through their misguided priorities."

27 GOP Members of Congress joined a majority of Democrats to deal a decisive blow to the proposed amendment.

“The U.S. House, having failed once again to codify discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans in the Constitution, should get back to work focusing on winning the war on terrorism, controlling federal spending, and providing economic and tax relief for all American families,” said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Guerriero.

“The House spoke very clearly and again said that marriage is an issue the states are perfectly capable of handling. Congressman Jim Kolbe articulated from the House Floor precisely why this amendment is losing support.”

A similar attempt to amend the Constitutional failed in 2004.

Conservative Republicans vowed they would return next year and predicted they eventually would win. But one conservative group, the Traditional Values Coalition, said it was a "good thing for traditional marriage" that the measure failed because it wasn't clear enough in ruling out civil unions.

To amend the Constitution a 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 state legislatures.

The U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27 times, including the 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights.

©365Gay.com 2006

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