House defeats gay marriage ban amendment

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican-controlled House emphaticallydefeated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Thursday,the latest in a string of conservative pet causes pushed to a voteby GOP leaders in the run-up to Election Day.

The vote was 227-186, far short of the two-thirds needed forapproval on a measure that President Bush backed but the Senate hadpreviously rejected.

President Bush earlier this year asked Congress to vote on theamendment, and Democrats contended that in complying, Republicanswere motivated by election-year politics.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip, accused GOPleaders of “raw political cynicism” and said they hoped to “createthe fodder for a demagogic political ad.”

Whatever the motivation, there was no disagreement that theamendment lacked the two-thirds majority needed to pass, just as itfailed by a lopsided margin in the Senate earlier this year.

The gay marriage amendment said marriage in the United States”shall consist only of a man and a woman.” It also would haverequired that neither the U.S. Constitution nor any stateconstitution “shall be construed to require that marriage or thelegal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than theunion of a man and a woman.”

Voters in 11 states will decide the fate of proposed amendmentsto their state constitutions this fall, and opponents of bans ongay marriage concede they will be difficult to stop.