Amendment to ban gay marriage fizzles in House

227-186 vote far short of two-thirds needed

October 01, 2004|By Richard Simon | Richard Simon,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - The House yesterday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage but gave Republican leaders a consolation prize by putting lawmakers on record on an issue that will be used as campaign fodder in the November elections.

The "Marriage Protection Amendment," backed by President Bush, fell 49 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to begin the process of changing the Constitution. The vote was 227 for and 186 against.

But the amendment's supporters said the House vote was just the beginning of a long effort to pass the measure. "This issue is not going away," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican.

The House vote was the latest scheduled by Republican leaders to force Democrats to cast politically tough votes. The issue already was dead for the year after the amendment's supporters failed in July to muster majority support in the Senate.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland accused Republicans of bringing up the issue to create "a demagogic political ad" against Democrats who voted against it. The advocacy group Americans United For Separation of Church and State, which described itself as a "liberty watchdog group," called the vote an "election-year ploy designed to help the religious right launch political attacks as the Nov. 2 election approaches."

In Kansas, Kris Kobach, Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore, has endorsed the constitutional amendment. Until yesterday, Moore had not publicly taken a position on it. He voted against it.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, a North Dakota Democrat who had not taken a public position on the amendment, voted against it. His Republican opponent, Duane Sand, has supported it.

"This shows Earl Pomeroy is out of touch with the values of most of the voters of North Dakota," said Matt Lewis, Sand's campaign manager.

Conservative groups, including the Christian Coalition of America and the Family Research Council, said they would count the vote as a bellwether in their lawmaker rankings.

But a number of conservative Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure. Some contended that amending the Constitution was unnecessary.

Voting for the amendment were 191 Republicans and 36 Democrats. Opposed were 158 Democrats, 27 Republicans and one Independent.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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