Senate to Vote on So-Called 'Marriage Protection Amendment' Prior to to Fall Elections

On February 10th, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced that
he would bring the already failed proposal to write discrimination into
the Constitution up for a vote on June 5, 2006. Similar to 2004, the
Senate vote on the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment will come as
the fall election season heats up.

"Not one marriage is protected by this amendment and all
marriages are devalued when used as a political ploy," said Human Rights
Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Writing one group of people out of
the protections of the Constitution is politics at its worst."

At the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference in
Washington, DC on Fri., Feb. 10, Sen. Frist said, "Today, the
institution of marriage is under attack…. When America's values are
under attack, we need to act…. And on June 5th – and everybody note
that on your calendar – when I bring the marriage protection amendment
to the Senate floor, we will act." Also speaking at the event were
noted anti-gay leaders Phyllis Schlafly, Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Sam
Brownback and Alan Chambers, head of the dangerous "ex-gay" group Exodus

"Senator Frist used the stage at the venomous CPAC conference to
appeal to a small group of extremists that strategists like Karl Rove
count on turning out on Election Day," said Solmonese. "Writing
discrimination into the constitution may appease extremists but it turns
off fair-minded voters tired of political games with real problems are
left unsolved."

Not only would the amendment ban marriage for same-sex couples,
it also threatens domestic partnerships and civil unions. Exit polling
from the 2004 election showed that 60 percent of voters favored either
marriage or civil unions to provide same-sex couples with equal
opportunities to protect their families.

"Americans want fairness for gay couples and this amendment
could wipe out any option for providing critical responsibilities and
protections to families," said Solmonese. "Our nation's founding
document should be amended to expand rights and liberties, not take them

The amendment received prominent attention in 2004 when House
and Senate leaders tried to use same-sex marriage as a wedge issue in
the November elections. Yet, despite intense pressure from the White
House and extreme right-wing organizations, the amendment which requires
two-thirds approval in each chamber, failed in the House by a 227-186
margin and in the Senate with a vote of 48-50. Republicans and
Democrats joined together in both houses of Congress to defeat the
attempt to single out one group of Americans for unequal treatment in
the Constitution.

A broad coalition of religious organizations, civil rights
groups, and individuals from across the political spectrum stood up
against the amendment in 2004 – then called the Federal Marriage

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