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committee approves gay marriage ban

committee approves gay marriage ban

A split Wisconsin senate committee approved a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions, clearing the way for an expected vote by the full body on Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary, Corrections, and Privacy Committee voted 3-2 along party lines with all Republicans supporting the amendment, according to votes tallied Monday. Members sent in their votes by paper ballot, which were collected by the committee chairman for a Monday deadline.

Wisconsin law already defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but amendment supporters fear a judge could invalidate the statute and order the state to recognize same-sex marriage, as happened in Massachusetts. Opponents say the amendment would write discrimination into the state constitution and could strip gay couples of any legal recognition, such as health care benefits.

The amendment states, "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

The amendment must be approved by consecutive two-year sessions of the legislature before it can go to voters in a statewide referendum. Lawmakers easily approved the amendment under first consideration in 2004, and groups on both sides of the debate acknowledge they are likely to approve it again. The amendment is expected to appear on the November ballot. (AP)

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