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US Congress Rejects Proposal to Ban Gay Marriage


The U.S. Senate has blocked a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, effectively killing the measure. But supporters say they are not giving up, as VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

The Senate voted 49 to 48 to cut off debate on the proposal, 11 votes short of the 60 needed to move the measure toward an up-or-down vote.

President Bush, who had urged the Senate to pass the amendment out of concern that judges in some states have overturned laws defining marriage as between a man and woman, expressed disappointment.

But in a written statement, he said the vote marks the start of a new chapter in what he called this important national debate.

Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican and key sponsor of the proposal, said the effort would continue.

"We are making progress and we are not going to stop until marriage between a man and a woman is protected," he said.

Opposition Democrats said Republicans were using the issue to bolster their party's conservative base ahead of November's congressional elections.

"This is not about the preservation of marriage," said Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. "This debate is about the preservation of a majority. The Republican majority believes that if they can bring these issues, which fire up their political base, to the floor, that they will have better luck in the November election."

The Republican-led House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue next month, although prospects for passage there are slim.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans opposes same-sex marriages. But a recent poll by ABC News shows a majority also opposes a Constitutional amendment to ban such marriage.

For such an amendment to succeed, it would have to be approved by two-thirds of both the House and Senate, and ratified by at least 38 of the 50 state legislatures.