A move to amend the US constitution to bar same-sex marriage has, as expected, failed in the senate. The amendment aimed to strictly define marriage as only being between a man and woman in the constitution, thus removing the possibility of states or the courts legalising gay unions.

On Wednesday The Defense of Marriage Act failed to secure enough of the votes (a two thirds majority) required to move further up the legislative chain. The Senate vote was 49-48, with 60 votes required.

The bill was strongly and publicly promoted by President George Bush in a number of speeches broadcast on radio and television. He stated that, “Marriage is the most fundamental right in our society and it should not be defined by activist judges”. His push for the act was seen by many as a hypocritical attempt to shore up support among right-wing constituents.

A New York Times editorial said that, “All this effort to divert the nation’s attention to issues that divide and distract would be bad enough if the country were not facing real, disastrous problems at home and abroad. But then, if that weren’t the case, Mr. Bush probably wouldn’t feel moved to stoop so low.”

Supporters of the constitutional amendment have vowed to continue to fight for the ban and have threatened to revive the bill in the future. Colorado Senator Wayne Allard said, “If it’s up to me, we’ll have a vote on this issue every year,” while Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas said that, “We’re making progress, and we’re not going to stop until marriage between a man and a woman is protected.”

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