WASHINGTON (BP)–A Senate subcommittee approved a constitutional amendment to protect marriage Nov. 9 in Congress’ first action on the measure this year.
The Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights Subcommittee forwarded the Marriage Protection Amendment to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 5-4 vote. The vote by the nine-member panel was along party lines, with Republicans in the majority.
Supporters of the legislation hope it will be acted upon by the Judiciary Committee Nov. 17, but it is uncertain if the panel will vote on it on that date, a congressional spokesman said.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., subcommittee chairman, called the vote “an important step in the fight to protect traditional marriage. We should act as soon as possible to protect traditional marriage.”
The amendment, S.J. Res. 1, simply 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.”
Last year, the Senate failed even to give an up-or-down vote to a similar amendment. Supporters gained only 48 of the 60 votes needed to halt debate and allow a vote — a procedure called invoking cloture. Fifty senators voted against cloture, thereby blocking a vote.
The House of Representatives achieved a majority on the Marriage Protection Amendment in 2004 with a 227-186 vote, but it fell far short of the required two-thirds, or 290 votes, needed for passage.
Ratification of an amendment to the Constitution requires passage by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states.
The subcommittee action came a day after voters in Texas approved an amendment to the state constitution to protect marriage by 76-24 percent. Texas became the 19th state to adopt a marriage amendment. A state marriage amendment has yet to lose on a ballot, and 12 of the states to approve such a measure have done so with at least 70 percent of the vote.
Massachusetts began recognizing “homosexual marriage” last year, and other states may follow in the near future. Supporters of “homosexual marriage” would like to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court and have it legalized nationwide, but they hope to win a few more lawsuits on the state level before seeking federal affirmation.