On Friday morning, a coalition of pro-family groups presented over 1.4 million signed petitions in support of traditional marriage to the U.S. Senate, which had begun an informal debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Joining the American Family Association to present the evidence of the suppport for traditional marriage were Family Research Council (FRC), the Center for Reclaiming America, and the American Center for Law and Justice.
The boxes were handed over to Senators Brownback (R-KS) and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), who drafted the FMA, during a press conference at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill.
In response to hearing the number of petitions collected, FRCs Tony Perkins said, The people are making their voices heard in their states but unfortunately, that is not enough.
He continued, With activists federal judges--some, no doubt waiting for the opportunity to redefine marriage for the entire country--we must have an amendment to the U.S. Constitution and we are here today with yet another clear example of the overwhelming public support for an amendment to protect marriage."
The U.S. Senate debate on the FMA was scheduled to begin next Monday, but Senators agreed to begin informal debate on the legislation on Friday upon the urging of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who said that debate would continue Monday and Tuesday. The goal is to have a vote on Wednesday, July 14.
For the FMA to pass two-thirds majority or 67 of the 100 U.S. Senators must vote in its favor. Congressional experts have questioned if the legislation will be able to garner the 60 votes needed to prevent an expected filibuster, where a dissenting Senator seizes the floor to stall the Senate from voting on the legislation.
We are expecting a filibuster from the anti-marriage forces, said Dr. Gary Cass, the newly named executive director of the Center for Reclaiming America. This will be a difficult fight. Only an overwhelming grassroots response can save marriage as we know it. These 1.4 million petitions are solid evidence that Americans care about the defense of marriage.
The FMA reads: Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
The response has been very strong from people nationwide who want to see marriage remain an institution between one man and one woman, said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.
As the Senate prepares to take up this issue, we are hopeful that Senators will get the message, he said.