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Frist: Senate will vote on marriage amendment this year

WASHINGTON (BP)–The day after Sen. John Kerry sealed the Democratic presidential nomination, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told reporters that the Senate will vote this year on a constitutional marriage amendment.

Frist’s announcement March 3 came the same day that the issue of same-sex “marriage” dominated the news on both coasts.

In Oregon, Multnomah County, where Portland sits, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In New York, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued a statement saying same-sex “marriage” was illegal there, providing a blow to New Paltz, N.Y., Mayor Jason West, who had conducted several same-sex “weddings.” He faces 19 criminal charges and could end up in jail, although he says the ceremonies will continue.

Frist said that a vote will take place in the Senate this year, Bloomberg news service reported.

“It is clear that we must act,” he said after a news conference. “We are gambling with our future if we allow activist judges to redefine marriage for our whole society.”

Such a vote would put Kerry on the political hot seat in the middle of an election. He opposed a federal marriage amendment and was one of 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. President Bush announced his support for an amendment in February.

Frist said he has not decided which version of an amendment to back, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County in Oregon began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples March 3 after receiving an opinion from a county attorney saying that the state constitution prohibits discrimination. Homosexual couples lined up March 3, waiting to receive their licenses.

State law states: “Marriage is a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age, who are otherwise capable.”

Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers and Gov. Ted Kulongoski, both Democrats, were meeting to discuss their plans, CNN.com reported.

In New York, Spitzer released a statement saying that state law prohibited same-sex “marriage.”

“[T]he opinion recommends that local officials in New York should not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, and officiants should not solemnize same sex wedding ceremonies,” the opinion read.

But Spitzer did say that New York’s marriage laws “raise important constitutional questions involving the equal protection of the laws.” The uncertainty will be resolved the courts, he said.

In addition, he said that under court precedent same-sex “marriages” and civil unions “lawfully entered in other jurisdictions outside the state should be recognized in New York.” His opinion on that matter could become important in May, when same-sex couples are expected to receive marriage licenses in Massachusetts.

Liberty Counsel, a national pro-family law firm, announced plans March 3 to seek the removal of West from office and to ask a court to stop his actions. West is pronouncing the couples married even though the clerk is refusing to issue marriage licenses. Liberty Counsel is filing two lawsuits.

“Knowingly disobeying the law is not a game,” Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver said in a statement. “Rather than the ‘best day’ of his mayoral career as Mayor West exclaimed a few days ago, his indictment and removal from office will prove to be the last days of his short political career. Marriage is, and remains, between one man and one woman.”
For more information on the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit BP’s story collection at:

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