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Senate schedules marriage amendment vote for June.

A proposed federal marriage amendment is apparently headed for a floor vote in the U.S. Senate in June.

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) recently announced that the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" will be brought forward then.

SJ.Res.1 is a constitutional amendment that would ban samesex marriage in America. The proposal states, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and woman." In the Senate's last session, a similar measure fell short of the two-thirds needed to advance a constitutional change.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged the Senate to defeat the measure, arguing that it would enshrine in the Constitution the view of marriage held by the majority faiths.

Indeed, Religious Right leaders and the Roman Catholic bishops are urging their members to contact Congress in support of the proposal.

In March, the U.S. Catholic bishops' Administrative Committee reaffirmed its opposition to "any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage."

The committee also offered "general support for a federal marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution as we continue to protect marriage in state legislatures, the courts, the Congress and other appropriate forums," reported the National Catholic Register.

In early April, Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement supporting the federal marriage amendment.

An alliance of religious, educational, civil liberties and other public-interest groups called the Coalition Against Discrimination in the Constitution, of which Americans United is a member, is circulating an open letter in opposition to the marriage amendment for religious groups and leaders to sign.

The letter reads, in part, "We are concerned that the Marriage Protection Amendment would mark the first time in history that an amendment to the Constitution would restrict the civil rights of an entire group of Americans. Misusing our nation's most cherished document for this purpose would tarnish our proud tradition of expanding citizens' rights by Constitutional amendment, a tradition long supported by America's faith communities. These concerns alone merit rejection of the Marriage Protection Amendment."

Religious leaders interested in signing the letter may do so at the Web site:
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Title Annotation:IN THE CAPITAL
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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