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Democratic senator vows to fight marriage amendment

Democratic senator vows to fight marriage amendment

U.S. senator Russ Feingold told The Capital Times of Madison, Wis., on Tuesday that he will "lead the charge" in Congress against any move to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. "It is unbelievable to me that we would use our Constitution to deal with an issue like that," the Wisconsin Democrat said. Feingold, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the committee held hearings on the subject this past summer. "I think we did very well in pointing out how inappropriate it is for the federal government to have a constitutional amendment to take the decision away from the states," he told the Times's editorial board. "I think it's really an abuse of the Constitution." The proposed amendment in the Senate, a version of which was previously introduced in the House, comes on the heels of recent federal and state court rulings that appear to open the door to same-sex marriages, including the U.S. Supreme Court's sodomy ruling in June and the Massachussetts supreme judicial court's November decision in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Some conservative lawmakers are now arguing that the amendment is needed to "protect" the institution of marriage from such pro-gay court rulings. A recent poll showed that nearly two thirds of Americans would support a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage. But that same poll showed the public is more closely split over allowing same-sex civil unions, which would grant couples most of the same legal rights. "I don't think the thing's completely jelled yet," Feingold said. "My position is that we don't use the U.S. Constitution to deal with it." A number of other Congress members, some of them highly conservative, have also publicly vowed to fight against the amendment, arguing that the gay marriage issue should be left to the states.

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