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Senate continues marriage amendment debate

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] continues debate Tuesday on the Marriage Protection Amendment [PDF text; SJ Res 1 summary], a proposal for a constitutional amendment defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. Sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) [official website; press release], the amendment effectively prohibiting same-sex marriage came to the Senate floor Monday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] has scheduled a test vote to limit debate on the measure for Wednesday. Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans are expected to block a final vote, however, and supporters lack the necessary 67 votes for actual Senate approval. President Bush urged Congress to approve the amendment in his weekly radio address [JURIST report] Saturday, condemning "activist" judges that have struck down state laws banning same-sex marriage. Allard said Monday that a constitutional amendment would prevent those judges from "rewriting our traditional marriage laws."

To become law, a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in each house of Congress followed by ratification by three-quarters of the states. Democrats have accused Republicans of using the vote as a ploy to help energize their own base in November's mid-term elections. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] said that "it is clear the reason for this debate is to divide our society, to pit one against another." The Los Angeles Times has more.

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