Anxious to counter moves to legalize gay marriage, a group of Republican senators lobbied on Wednesday for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union between a
man and a woman. "In response to those who are trying to destroy the legal status of marriage and force their will on the American people, a constitutional response is necessary," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). Speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference hosted by the group Alliance for Marriage, Brownback and a handful of other Republican senators said that children are best served by a union between men and women. "We ought to be defenders of marriage," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "A lot of things have changed in the world, but that one has not changed, and science backs it up." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) wrote to his Senate colleagues urging them to support a constitutional amendment.
Gay rights groups say the amendment would amount to discrimination against same-sex couples, especially those with children. "I find it to be a mean-spirited attack on gay families," said David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group. "It would mean that children growing up in gay families would never receive the security and protection that a civil marriage provides." Smith said the senators are "out of step" with public opinion on gay families, who are thriving and raising healthy, happy children.
The House of Representatives has introduced a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but nothing has yet moved in the Senate. Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, asserted that Senate support is growing. "The process is well under way here, but it will be in a slower and more deliberate way [than in the House]," he said. Most Democrats and many Republican lawmakers oppose such an amendment, which would require the approval of two thirds of both the House and Senate and the consent of three quarters of the states.