Senate panel OKs gay marriage ban
Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network
Thursday, November 10, 2005 / 04:53 PM
SUMMARY: A proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was approved by a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.
A proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is expected to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and a likely vote in the Senate next year after a Senate panel approved it Wednesday.
The Marriage Protection Amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
The amendment would also rescind the Massachusetts precedent that made same-sex marriage legal in that state.
“None of us takes amending the Constitution lightly,” said Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution. “The plain fact is this amendment has been exhaustively studied and it really is time to act,” he told the Associated Press (AP).
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., called the measure “an extreme and unnecessary reaction” that has little chance of passing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said those behind the amendment have a political agenda.
Brownback, who is considering a presidential bid, insisted politics had nothing to do with the bill.
But Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said, “Basically what we saw yesterday was another version of cynical politics, when you see the poll numbers go down and Capitol Hill goes into disarray.”
“That’s when the radical right wing reaches into their playbook to write discrimination into the Constitution and threaten the security of millions of American families,” Luna said.
“The Constitution exists to protect rights, not undermine them,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative Office.
“Congress rightly rejected this measure last year and must reject it again,” Fredrickson said, referring to the Federal Marriage Amendment, which failed to get enough Senate votes in July.
Eric Stern, the executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, told the PlanetOut Network his organization was “extremely disappointed” with the panel’s decision. While praising all the Democrats on the committee who voted against the proposed amendment, Stern directed his strongest criticism against Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
Specter, who cast the deciding 5-4 vote, claimed he opposes the amendment but felt it should not “be bottled up” in committee.
Stern called Specter’s decision “hypocritical” and compared it to actions of other “supposedly pro-gay Republicans” such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.
In order to become law the Marriage Protection Amendment would need to be approved by two-thirds of those voting in the House and Senate and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.
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