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House to vote on
Marriage Protection Amendment

House to vote on
Marriage Protection Amendment


House Republicans are pressing for a Tuesday vote on a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, forcing lawmakers to take a stand just months before mid-term elections.

Undeterred by a decisive defeat in the Senate, House Republicans are moving ahead with a vote on a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, forcing lawmakers to take a stand just months before midterm elections, the Associated Press reports. The vote, scheduled for Tuesday, will occur in a week devoted to several priorities of social conservatives--what House GOP leaders call their "American values agenda." Also on tap are a Pledge of Allegiance-protection bill and several Republican-backed stem cell bills.

President Bush, under some pressure from conservatives to take a more active role in promoting their issues, spoke out for the Marriage Protection Amendment, as it's called, several times before it was rejected in the Senate last month. Changing the Constitution is necessary, he said in one of his weekly radio addresses, because "activist judges and some local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage in recent years."

Defeat of the amendment is once again a near-certainty. The Senate fell 11 votes short of the 60 votes needed just to advance the proposal to a yes-or-no decision. Two years ago, just before another election, the House came up some 40 votes shy of the two-thirds majority required to advance a constitutional amendment.

Opponents of same-sex marriage claimed success anyway. They argue that the 2004 vote was part of a successful campaign to rally conservatives and help win Bush's reelection. Proposals to ban same-sex marriage were on the ballots of 11 states, including Ohio, where a bigger than usual rural turnout swung the election to Bush.

"The more this issue is discussed, the more people understand the threat" posed by activist courts, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. The votes in Congress give the majority of Americans who oppose marriage equality a chance "to look and see if the people in Washington represent them and stand on the same side," he said.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay Democrat from Wisconsin, said the marriage amendment "certainly is a tool that the right wing is using, but I think it has lost the impact it had in 2004." Baldwin said voters are more concerned about the war in Iraq, health care costs, and gas prices and to a greater extent "are recognizing this time that these measures are politically motivated."

"We're heading into an election where the Republicans are in deep trouble," said Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "The outcome is not really a significant factor in all of this," he said of the House vote. "It's a move to appease a rapidly dwindling base." (AP)

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