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Marriage amendment at the top of congressional agenda

Marriage amendment at the top of congressional agenda

U.S. senator Wayne Allard plans to reintroduce the antigay Marriage Protection Amendment in Congress, the Rocky Mountain News reports. "We think we have more support this time than we had last time around," Allard told the newspaper. He said he has lined up 12 cosponsors. However, he needs a two-thirds vote for final Senate passage. Last year's version of the proposed constitutional amendment was shelved after a procedural vote, when it gained only 48 of the 60 votes needed to bring it up for final approval. Since then, 11 states have passed their own versions of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the November election swept out several senators who voted to block Allard's bill--most notably, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. "We've never institutionalized a slap against a community in the Constitution before, and there's no reason to do it now," Julie Tolleson, spokeswoman for Equal Rights Colorado, told the newspaper on Sunday night. Others, including both Democrats and Republicans, say they support traditional marriage but think a constitutional amendment is unnecessary--at least for now. To become reality, the amendment would require two-thirds majorities for passage in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It then would require ratification by three quarters of the states. "The American people value freedom, not discrimination," said Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "Americans want laws that ensure the safety and stability of their neighbors, and that's what our policymakers should be focused on. Pushing an amendment that would deny protections to millions of Americans is completely out of step with our nation's values." In a January 16 interview with The Washington Post, President Bush acknowledged the lack of congressional support for the amendment and told reporters that he "will not press senators to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage."

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