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US Senate begins debate on same sex marriage

Written by: Staff
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Washington, June 6 (UNI) The US Senate has begun debating on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in what is seen as an appeal by Senate Republican leaders to their party's conservative base this congressional election year.

President W George Bush backs the proposed amendment urging the Senate to act on the measure out of concern that judges in several states have overturned laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

''Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilisation, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,'' he said, adding marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by all religions.

''Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society,'' President Bush said.

''Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, without weakening this good influence on society, '' he added.

By recognising and protecting marriage, President Bush said, government serves the interests of all. So, I want the Congress to approve a constitutional amendment banning homosexual or lesbian marriage.

However, amending the US constitution requires approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures. Lawmakers say the amendment is unlikely to pass because it does not have the required votes.

Opposition to gay marriage has been a mobilising force for social conservatives, who generally support the president's Republican Party.

President Bush backed the amendment before his 2004 re-election, and won in every state where there were similar initiatives on the ballot.

Critics now accuse the Bush administration of raising the issue again so close to the Congressional elections only to appeal to the conservative voters. The critics contention that it is politically motivated could derail the measure in the Senate, the sources said.

The Senate is to vote on the measure later this week. But it faces stiff opposition from Democrats and Republican moderates, who believe the issue should be decided by the states.

A similar amendment failed in both the Senate and House of Representatives in 2004.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriages, but that opposition has been eroding in recent years.

UNI XC SK VP0712

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