Senate to vote on gay marriage amendment

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Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has announced that he will bring the already failed ‘Marriage Protection Amendment’ proposal up for a vote on June 5, 2006. Similar to 2004, the Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment will come as the fall election season heats up.

“Not one marriage is protected by this amendment and all marriages are devalued when used as a political ploy,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Writing one group of people out of the protections of the Constitution is politics at its worst.”

At the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference in Washington, DC on Fri. Sen. Frist said: “Today, the institution of marriage is under attack. When America’s values are under attack, we need to act…. And on June 5th – and everybody note that on your calendar – when I bring the marriage protection amendment to the Senate floor, we will act.”

Also speaking at the event were noted anti-gay leaders Phyllis Schlafly, Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Sam Brownback and Alan Chambers, head of the “ex-gay” group Exodus International.

“Senator Frist used the stage at the venomous CPAC conference to appeal to a small group of extremists that strategists like Karl Rove count on turning out on Election Day,” said Solmonese. “Writing discrimination into the constitution may appease extremists but it turns off fair-minded voters tired of political games with real problems are left unsolved.”

Not only would the amendment ban marriage for same-sex couples, it also threatens domestic partnerships and civil unions. Exit polling from the 2004 election showed that 60 percent of voters favoured either marriage or civil unions to provide same-sex couples with equal opportunities to protect their families.

“Americans want fairness for gay couples and this amendment could wipe out any option for providing critical responsibilities and protections to families,” said Solmonese. “Our nation’s founding document should be amended to expand rights and liberties, not take them away.”

The amendment received prominent attention in 2004 when House and Senate leaders tried to use same-sex marriage as a wedge issue in the November elections. Yet, despite intense pressure from the White House and extreme right-wing organizations, the amendment – which requires two-thirds approval in each chamber – failed in the House by a 227-186 margin and in the Senate with a vote of 48-50. Republicans and Democrats joined together in both houses of Congress to defeat the attempt to single out one group of Americans for unequal treatment in the Constitution.

A broad coalition of religious organisations, civil rights groups, and individuals from across the political spectrum stood up against the amendment in 2004 – then called the Federal Marriage Amendment.


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