Anti-marriage amendment fails House vote, again

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday once again rebuffed the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the U.S. Constitution.

The 236-187 vote for the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment. It followed six weeks after the Senate also decisively defeated the amendment, a top priority of social conservatives.

The amendment gained nine votes since the last attempt on Sept. 30, 2004. Michigan's delegation to the U.S. House defeated the measure by a vote of 8-7. None of Michigan's Democratic Representatives supported the measure, while seven of Michigan's nine Republican Representatives voted yes.

Opponents dismissed the proposal as both discriminatory and legislatively irrelevant because of the Senate vote. The measure is "all for the purpose of pandering to a narrow political base." said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay Democrat from Wisconsin. "This hateful and unnecessary amendment is unworthy of our great Constitution."

"Republican House leaders have now failed twice in their shameful election-year ploys using gay and lesbian families as punching bags," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "A bipartisan group of Representatives today rejected the politics of discrimination and stood up for the American value of fairness. Congress has defeated this discriminatory amendment on four separate occasions now, while the American people's support for equality has continued to grow. The message is clear: get to the work of protecting families, not threatening them with prejudice."

The marriage amendment was part of the "American values agenda" that includes a pledge protection bill and a vote on Bush's expected veto of a bill promoting embryonic stem cell research. Bush had asked, and social conservatives demanded, that the equal marriage ban be considered in the run-up to the election.

The White House, in a statement issued Tuesday before the vote, urged passage of the measure. "When activist judges insist on redefining the fundamental institution of marriage for their states or potentially for the entire country, the only alternative left to make the people's voice heard is an amendment of the Constitution."

The equal marriage debate mirrors that of the 2004 election year, when both the House and Senate fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to send a constitutional amendment to the states.

How they voted

The following is an alphabetical-order list of Michigan's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives and how they voted on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Dave Camp (R) District 4 - Y

John Conyers Jr. (D) District 14 - N

John Dingell (D) District 15 - N

Vernon J. Ehlers (R) District 3 - Y

Pete Hoekstra (R) District 2 - Y

Dale Kildee (D) District 5 - N

Carolyn Kilpatrick (D) District 13 - N

Joseph Knollenberg (R) District 9 - N

Sander Levin (D) District 12 - N

Thaddeus McCotter (R) District 11 - Y

Candice Miller (R) District 10 - Y

Mike Rogers (R) District 8 - Y

Joe Schwarz (R) District 7 - N

Bart Stupak (D) District 1 - N

Fred Upton (R) District 6 - Y

How to speak OUT

Contact your U.S. representative and let them know how you feel about her or his July 17 vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

To find your U.S. representative, visit Project Vote Smart at www.vote-smart.org or call the U.S. Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Additional reporting provided by The Associated Press

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