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Senate committee
considers federal marriage ban

Senate committee
considers federal marriage ban

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing Thursday on a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would forever ban marriage for same-sex couples in the United States. The Marriage Protection Amendment is an updated version of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which was defeated in both houses of Congress last year. Prompted by Republican senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, the committee heard from a panel of witnesses for and against the discriminatory proposal.

After the hearing a number of pro-gay activists denounced the amendment. "Congress has already rejected this amendment, and it must do so again," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU legislative counsel. "Discrimination has no place in our federal laws, and certainly not in the Constitution. That document exists to protect rights, not deny them. With all the issues facing Congress right now, there is no reason to focus time and energy on denying marriage protections to same-sex couples. Hardworking, tax-paying Americans in loving relationships don't need lawmakers playing political games with their families."

"They're playing cynical political games that threaten the security of American families," said Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "While some senators are trying to appease their extremist base, millions of Americans who support equal rights and responsibilities for all families will see through these hearings. Not only would the amendment ban marriage for same-sex couples, but it would threaten domestic partnerships and civil unions. It's time for Washington to get back to helping all families, not hurting them."

The FMA stalled in Congress last year when neither chamber came close to the required two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment. Opposition to the amendment came from unusual sources: former Republican congressman Bob Barr, author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act; Vice President Dick Cheney; Republican representative Christopher Cox; Republican senator John McCain; and others. (

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