WASHINGTON (BP)–A marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution was re-introduced in the Senate Jan. 24 with support from Majority Leader Bill Frist and 21 other senators.
Although the amendment was defeated last year, supporters hope it has a better chance of passing this session following a slew of conservative victories on Election Day, when voters in 11 states passed marriage amendments to their respective state constitutions. They passed with an average of 70.1 percent of the vote.
But amendment backers say a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only permanent remedy. Its name has changed a bit from the last session, when it was known as the “Federal Marriage Amendment.” It now is called the “Marriage Protection Amendment.”
The amendment is Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1.
“This legislation is being introduced to protect and defend traditional marriage,” the amendment’s sponsor, Sen. Wayne Allard, R.-Colo., said in a statement. “We must not stand still when the courts are being used to challenge and distort civilization’s oldest, most venerable social institution. We are responding to that challenge.”
The federal Defense of Marriage Act — which gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriages” — is being challenged in federal courts in California, Florida and Oklahoma. In addition, lawsuits seeking the legalization of same-sex “marriage” are pending in nine states.
Marriage amendment supporters made gains during the 2004 election, as reflected by the list of co-sponsors. Four new senators are co-sponsors — Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mel Martinez of Florida. All four replaced senators who opposed the marriage amendment.
So far, all 22 sponsors are Republican. On a procedural vote last summer, only three Democrats supported the amendment.
Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, applauded Republican leaders for re-introducing the amendment. The Alliance for Marriage wrote the amendment as it was first introduced in Congress.
“In the face of those who predicted a leadership retreat from the protection of marriage, the Senate leadership is making clear their continued determination to support AFM’s Marriage Protection Amendment,” Daniels said in a statement. “… Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don’t believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society.”
In 2004 Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex “marriage.” It was court-mandated. Traditionalists fear that homosexual couples eventually will win a legal battle in federal court to have the licenses from Massachusetts recognized elsewhere. Such a legal strategy could become easier if another state — such as New Jersey or Washington — legalizes same-sex “marriage” in the near future. Washington state’s highest court is scheduled to hear a same-sex “marriage” case in March.
The marriage amendments passed by 11 states on Election Day provide only limited protection. While they protect against rulings by state courts, they are vulnerable in federal court. Nebraska’s amendment is being challenged in federal court.
“Activist judges and lawyers continue trying to redefine traditional marriage in literally dozens of states,” Allard said. “The American people through their elected representatives, not unelected judges, should decide the future of marriage in our country.”
Allard said he expects the amendment to receive a vote before the 2006 elections, the Associated Press reported.
Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote — which is 67 votes in the Senate — to pass.
Polls consistently show that Americans oppose same-sex “marriage” by a margin of 2-to-1.
For the latest news on the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage