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Marriage amendment tweaked to clarify issue of civil unions

WASHINGTON (BP)–Seeking to clear up confusion over the issue of civil unions, Sen. Wayne Allard re-introduced the federal marriage amendment March 22 with different language.

The new version deletes five words from the old version in hopes of clarifying that the issue of civil unions — similar to what exists in Vermont — would be left up to state legislatures.

Some critics of the other version claim that it would prohibit state-sanctioned civil unions and domestic partnerships, which give same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage.

The new version would still prohibit state courts from legalizing civil unions.

“During the process of debate and deliberation over the FMA, I have met with literally dozens of legal scholars, civil rights scholars and diverse religious and civic groups,” Allard, R.-Colo., said in a statement.

“During these meetings, questions were raised about the legislation’s intent. Although I believe that the original text was clear, to address those concerns I have sharpened the language.”

Including Allard, the new amendment has nine Senate supporters. The older version had 11 Senate supporters.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R.-Colo., is expected to introduce the new language in the House of Representatives. Both Allard and Musgrave were sponsors of the original amendment.

“I am encouraged by Senator Allard’s critical work in ensuring the Congress protects traditional marriage,” she said in a statement. “The technical changes he introduced today will help strengthen support of the marriage amendment and make its intent even clearer: marriage in the United States is a unique union between one man and one woman.

“Furthermore, the federal marriage amendment protects states from court imposed civil unions and from being forced by the courts to recognize homosexual unions that are accepted in other states.”

The first sentence in both versions is identical: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”

The second sentence is where they differ. The new version reads: “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 older version referenced state and federal law and read: “Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”
For more information about the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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