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Marriage amendment re-introduced in U.S. House

WASHINGTON (BP)–A constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” has been re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R.-Calif., introduced the amendment March 17 — three days after a judge in his home state issued a ruling legalizing “gay marriage.” That ruling is being appealed.

Although Lungren once did not support a marriage amendment, he has changed his mind in light of recent court rulings. Lungren served as California’s attorney general from 1991-99.

It has been dubbed the “Defense of Marriage Amendment.”

“Five years ago he didn’t feel there would be any need for this,” Lungren spokesman Brian Seitchik told Baptist Press, “but with the activist courts — specifically the Ninth Circuit Court in California — he felt there was a need to pass a constitutional amendment declaring that in fact marriage was the union between one man and one woman.”

The amendment, H.J. Res. 39, would prevent any court — state or federal — from legalizing “gay marriage.” In doing so it would invalidate Massachusetts’ same-sex “marriages.” A different version of the amendment has been introduced in the Senate. It is S.J. Res. 1.

The amendment has nine co-sponsors.

Seitchik said a federal solution to the definition of marriage has been needed before.

“In fact, when the state of Utah was seeking to join the Union, the federal government made it very clear that polygamy needed to be outlawed,” Seitchik said. ” … So there is clearly precedence of the federal government being involved.”

Recent months have seen courts increasingly involved in the marriage issue. Trial courts in Washington state and New York have issued rulings legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The rulings are on appeal.

“The amendment is designed to prevent one state from imposing its definition of marriage onto other states,” Seitchik said.

Conservatives assert that a federal amendment is needed because state marriage amendments can be overturned in federal court. Nebraska’s and Oklahoma’s marriage amendments are being challenged in federal court.

The amendment is considerably longer than one introduced in the House last year. But, like last year’s amendment, it apparently would prevent courts from legalizing Vermont-style civil unions.

The entire amendment reads:

“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of a legal union of one man and one woman. No court of the United States or of any State shall have jurisdiction to determine whether this Constitution or the constitution of any State requires that the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon any union other than a legal union between one man and one woman. No State shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State concerning a union between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage, or as having the legal incidents of marriage, under the laws of such other State.”

The amendment would have to pass two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said that he fully supports passage of a marriage amendment but is still studying the Lungren amendment.

“This issue is so important that we want to get the best legal thinking from the best legal minds so that we can end up with the best possible amendment that can be ratified, and thus most fully protect marriage as between a man and a woman,” Land told Baptist Press.

Lungren was elected to Congress last November. He also previously served in the House from 1978-88.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust