WASHINGTON – Christian conservatives criticized the Senate for voting down the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, but remained positive that an amendment would someday pass.
"Today the U.S. Senate voted against marriage and against the American people," said Tony Perkins, President of the Washington-based Family Research Council. "This Senate is grossly out of step with the American people."
The Council was among dozens of Christian conservative groups that rallied senators to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment for weeks. On Tuesday, Perkins sent some 60,000 signatures from voters supporting the amendment to Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) and joined hands with black clergy in calling for the Senators to "write common sense" into the constitution.
Despite the widespread support from values-voters, the 49 to 48 Senate vote fell far short of the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle.
Perkins vowed to continue pushing for an amendment, saying discussions are underway for the forming a new political action entity that would "focus on removing the obstacles" to passing the bill.
"The U.S. Constitution will be amended. The only question is whether it will be amended by the courts or by the people through the ratification process," he said.
Randy Thomas, spokesperson for the ex-gay ministry Exodus International, also promised to aggressively work at the grassroots to celebrate traditional marriage despite the drawback.
"Most amendments take two or three or more tries to pass, so with this kind of momentum, it could very well pass the next time," said Thomas. "And there will be a next time."
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the marriage amendment in July, though Republican leaders do not expect it to pass there either.
"This is a big issue for lots of our members and frankly for lots of Americans," House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio told reporters on Tuesday, according to AP.
Constitutional amendments must win approval from two-thirds of each house of the U.S. Congress and three-quarters of state legislatures before taking effect.
According to a March 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans back a traditional marriage amendment and oppose gay same-sex "marriage." Support for protecting a man-woman definition of marriage remains strongest among churchgoers, with some polls revealing up to a 73 percent majority.
Prior to the Senate vote, churches across the nation spoke about the issue at the pews and pulpit as part of the "Marriage Protection Sunday."
Duke Barrett, Vice President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission that spearheaded the event, had already predicted that the amendment would not get enough votes for cloture. However, he said, the amendment was critical in determining the outcome of mid-term elections.
"It’s a principle issue," Barrett said. "Senators need to vote on it, and constituents need to know. Senators who are up for re-election may catch a backlash from the folks who brought them to office."