The effort to protect marriage at the Senate recommenced with the introduction of a new marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution by Sen. Wayne Allard and 21 other senators, January 24, 2005.
"This legislation is being introduced to protect and defend traditional marriage," Sen Allard, R.-Colo., who is sponsoring the amendment, said in a statement. "We must not stand still when the courts are being used to challenge and distort civilization's oldest, most venerable social institution. We are responding to that challenge."
Amendment backers, including Majority Leader Bill Frist, say a marriage amendment is the only way to protect traditional marriage from being attacked at the courts; the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which gives the states the option to reject the validity of same-sex marriage licenses obtained in other states, is currently be challenged in federal courts across the nation. Additionally, lawsuits seeking the legalization of same-sex marriage are pending in nine states.
"Activist judges and lawyers continue trying to redefine traditional marriage in literally dozens of states," Allard said. "The American people through their elected representatives, not unelected judges, should decide the future of marriage in our country."
Last year, the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) fell short of the 2/3 support needed at the Senate. Despite the defeat, pro-family and senate leaders said they are hopeful of a better chance of passing the new legislation, called the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), since voters have consistently shown their support for such an amendment. Last November, alongside the obvious victories at the executive and legislative branches for amendment-backers, 11 states passed marriage amendments to their respective state constitutions.
"I think it would be foolhardy to back off when we've got a good head of steam coming out of the election." The amendment fell far short of passage a year ago, explained Allard, who said he expects the GOP leaders will call for a vote before the 2006 elections. Who's to say whether we have enough votes or not."
The MPA, like the FMA, protects marriage in two ways: First, it states that marriage shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Second, it adds that no state would be required to give legal recognition to same-sex marriages sanctioned by any other state.
Dr. James Dobson, one of the most influential modern day Christian figures and avid supporter of traditional marriage, applauded the 109th Congress for its swift action.
"It is encouraging to see the Senate's swift action to preserve marriage in the first month of the 109th Congress. With dozens of challenges to state marriage laws, as well as a federal court challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the stakes have never been higher in the battle to protect marriage, said Dobson.
Dobson explained that the passage of the state amendments last year is proof of what the America people want.
"The people's will on this issue is clear. Last year, voters in 13 states -- 'red' states and 'blue' states alike -- left no doubt where they stood by passing marriage-protection amendments to their state constitutions, said Dobson in a statement released on Tuesday. Those amendments prevent state courts, but not federal courts, from redefining marriage. Insulating this most basic institution from judicial tyrants beyond the state level can only be accomplished by a federal marriage amendment.
Matt Daniels president of the Alliance for Marriage, which wrote the amendment as it was first introduced in Congress, also applauded the 22 senators who introduced the resolution.
"In the face of those who predicted a leadership retreat from the protection of marriage, the Senate leadership is making clear their continued determination to support AFM's Marriage Protection Amendment," Daniels said in a statement. "... Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society."
"We applaud Sen. Wayne Allard and the 21 original Senate co- sponsors for understanding that and for introducing the Marriage Protection Amendment, S.J. Res. 1, in the U.S. Senate today, said Dobson.
We call on all U.S. senators to sign on as co-sponsors to S.J. Res. 1 immediately.