Although the Federal Marriage Amendment stalled in the Senate, pro-family leaders, evangelical Christians and conservative politicians all expressed that the battle is far from over. Many of the FMA’s supporters are now advancing the legislation to the more conservative House, where observers say the amendment is likely to pass.
“When federal judges step out of line, Congress has the responsibility to drop the red flag," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said on Wednesday.
Smith, one of the 48 senators who voted to pass the amendment, said the measure is likely to be on the House floor next week.
Meanwhile, President Bush issued a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome, but was positive the battle will continue.
"Activist judges and local officials in some parts of the country are not letting up in their efforts to redefine marriage for the rest of America and neither should defenders of traditional marriage flag in their efforts," said Bush, who offered similar comments via radio the Saturday before the vote.
"It is important for our country to continue the debate on this important issue, and I urge the House of Representatives to pass this amendment," the president said.
Tony Perkins, president of the pro-family Family Research Council agreed, saying “This was just round one in the debate over marriage and now that it is over, we begin training for round two.”
"We know now which senators are for traditional marriage and which ones are not, and by November so will voters in every state," said Perkins.
Perkins, along with several other prominent pro-family leaders, long-since urged evangelical Christians to call the senators who were not in favor of the Amendment to protect marriage, and either “change their view on the issue or change the view from their office window.”
Those on the opposing side scoffed at the optimism.
"I think the discussion will continue to play out but I think they played their best hand today and couldn't even get a simple majority," said Cheryl Jacques, president of the largest pro-gay lobbying group the Human Rights Campaign.
Senator John Kerry, who decided to skip the Senate vote, issued a statement after the Wednesday decision saying he would’ve opposed the amendment if he were to have voted.
Kerry also said he believes the amendment, which pro-family groups say is essential to protect traditional marriage, is nothing more than a ‘political wedge’ republicans are using in an election year.
"The unfortunate result is that the important work of the American people — funding our homeland security needs, creating new and better jobs, and raising the minimum wage — is not getting done," he said.
Despite Kerry’s claims, pro-family leaders upheld the widespread view that the gay “marriage” issue is in fact the largest cultural battle in the history of America.
"I look at this as a 10-year fight. This is Day One," said Charles W. Colson, President of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
Perkins agreed, saying, "We've known from the beginning that this was going to be a long fight.”
“What we didn't know was just how little regard Senators on the left would have for the American people's will on this issue,” continued Perkins. "One thing is certain: the effort to protect marriage has unprecedented support. Nine states are poised to have state constitutional amendments on their ballots this fall on marriage, and poll after poll shows that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans want marriage to remain one man, one woman. Americans realize that the protection of marriage is vital to the future of the family, the welfare of children and the security of our nation.
"This fight has just begun."