Senate to Vote on Federal Marriage Amendment

( [email protected] ) Jun 18, 2004 05:11 PM EDT

A Texan legislator affirmed that the Federal Marriage Amendment would be on the Senate floor by mid July, during a news conference held in Washington on Friday, June 18 2004.

"We're not certain we'll be successful in this effort," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, added as he announced that the issue would be taken up on the week of July 12.

Following the announcement Cornyn and the measure's chief sponsor, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Col., explained that Amendment is needed now more than ever before in order to protect marriage from becoming distorted through the courts.

"This was an issue that was thrust upon us by the Massachusetts Supreme Court," Cornyn said. "We didn't pick the battle, we didn't pick the timing."

"We must not stand still when the courts are being used to challenge and distort civilization's oldest, most venerable social institution," said Allard.

Following the May 17th legalization of gay “marriage” in Massachusetts, thousands of gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot – several hundred of whom were from outside the state.

Dozens of these out-of-state homosexual couples have expressed their intention to file suit against a 1913 statute banning their “marriage,” and on Friday, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders filed suit on behalf of eight of those couples.

Should the Federal Marriage Amendment pass, all gay “marriage” licenses issued would be annulled and the pending cases would be discarded.

The FMA has received widespread support from evangelical protestant and catholic groups and from the Bush administration.

Several days ago President Bush reiterated his support for the amendment during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.

The "government, by strengthening and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all,” he said amid praise and applause.

At the same meeting, the attendees passed a resolution that declares, “The union of one man and one woman is the only form of marriage prescribed in the Bible as God’s perfect design.”

The Pope John Paul II also urged for the “maximum protection” of the God-ordained marriage between a man and a woman, during a June 18 speech.

"The family, the central and fundamental nucleus of all of society...deserves the maximum protection and help to carry out its mission," the pontiff said. “We cannot give in to certain voices that seem to confuse marriage with other forms of union that are completely different when not contrary to it."

Conversely, many moderate and liberal religious groups – including about a dozen mainline protestant Christian groups – along with the Democratic presidential contender John Kerry criticized the proposed Amendment.

Kerry iterated his support for civil unions and said the issue of marriage should be up to the states. He also claimed that the FMA is an effort to drive a “political wedge” between Americans.

On June 2, some 26 religious groups signed onto a letter that read:

"We believe the federal marriage amendment reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights and ignores differences among our nation's many religious traditions. It should be rejected.”

The letter, which is address to members of Congress, was mailed out and read aloud during a congressional briefing in Washington.

Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition of America – the largest evangelical political-action group in the nation with over 2 million members - urged people to contact Senators through phone calls, letters, faxes and petitions to ensure the Amendment would pass. "Force your senators to take a public position before voters go to the polls this fall," the Coalition announced on its website.

For the Amendment to pass, it needs to be approved by two-third majorities in both the Senate and the House and ratified by three fourths of the state legislatures.

The Allard amendment, which will be voted on at the Senate, states that "marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

The House has yet to announce when the amendment would be placed on the floor.

Said Stuart Roy, spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas: "We want to pass it, we don't want to just bring it up.”