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With new name, marriage amendment slated for Thurs. vote

WASHINGTON (BP)–Under a new name, a tweaked constitutional marriage amendment is expected to receive a vote in the House of Representatives Thursday.

While the amendment likely will not receive the 290 votes necessary to pass, supporters consider it a critical step in what may be a lengthy process. Historically, constitutional amendments take years to gain enough support for passage.

The amendment would protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning same-sex “marriage.”

“For too long, Congress has stood idly by as courts like the activist bench in Massachusetts have usurped legislative authority in this country, and the time has come for Congress to reassert itself, as our founders intended,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R.-Texas, said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that this step is being forced on us by the courts, but that is exactly what is happening.”

A majority vote for the amendment would be a victory of sorts. When it came up in the Senate this summer, it received 48 votes — short of a majority — and was filibustered.

The amendment is now being called the “Marriage Protection Amendment.” Supporters dropped the old name — the “Federal Marriage Amendment” — because it sounded synonymous with big government. The amendment’s bill number is now H.J.R. 106.

Pro-family leaders fear that without an amendment, judges will force same-sex “marriage” on all 50 states. The high court in Massachusetts forced that state to legalize same-sex “marriage” this summer, and weeks later, two judges in Washington state issued pro-same-sex “marriage” rulings. The Washington rulings are being appealed. In addition, Oregon’s high court is set to hear arguments in a homosexual “marriage” case in November.

On the federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged in a federal court in Florida. The law, sometimes called DOMA, gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriages.” If overturned, then every state presumably would be forced to recognize Massachusetts’ “marriages.”

“People in America have every right to live as they please, but no one has the right to redefine marriage for everyone else,” DeLay said. “No single judge or politician has that right -– it is a power that resides with the American people, whose voice will be expressed by their representatives in Congress.”

If the amendment were passed and ratified, then no legislature or court would have the power to legalize same-sex “marriage.” State legislatures, though, would still be able to give same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage.

In an effort to clarify the amendment’s meaning, supporters reintroduced it in the House Sept. 23 with minor changes. It now reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist solely 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.”

The new language is identical to the Senate’s version of the amendment.

The old version of the amendment read: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. 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 national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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