As expected, the U.S. Senate rejected a move to end debate and vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Republicans garnered 48 votes in favor of cloture, far short of the 60 needed to prevent Democrats from filibustering.

Fifty senators were opposed. Sen. John Kerry and his running mate Sen. John Edwards did not vote.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., noting the Constitution has been amended only 17 times in 217 years, said there is no urgent need to change it now.

However, Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., argued it “has become clear to legal scholars … that same-sex marriage will be exported to all 50 states.”

Gary Bauer, a former GOP presidential candidate lobbying for the amendment, said yesterday there is only one way to interpret the outcome of the procedural vote: “Senators who support traditional marriage will vote for cloture. Senators who support homosexual ‘marriage’ will vote against cloture.”

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said today’s vote represents the “first stage of a lengthy legislative battle that will not go away.”

“The cloture vote was an important barometer in determining where members of the Senate stand on this critical issue,” he said. “An overwhelming majority of Americans want marriage to remain an institution between one man and one woman.”

Editor’s note: The roll call, showing how each senator voted, is posted on here.

As WorldNetDaily reported, traditional-family defender James Dobson told his supporters a “distressing number of U.S. senators and congressmen are being cowed by the homosexual lobby and are afraid to support the amendment. Indeed, many of them who ran as conservatives are running instead for the tall grass.”

A backer of the amendment, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., told Fox News hot-button issues often don’t have enough support when they first come up for a vote.

But “then the people look at it and say, ‘wait a minute, I think a marriage should be between a man and a woman’ … and they pass it” on the state level, Brownback said this morning. “So this is not an unusual scenario we’re in.”

“It really takes the American public a long time to deal with, and it should,” he continued. “It’s an important issue and I think you’ll see this issue around for a long period of time.”

The proposed amendment 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 of a man and a woman.”

To pass, the measure requires approval of two-thirds of the Senate – 67 votes – and two-thirds of the House, then three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

Senate Democrats contend Republicans advanced the issue to the top of the legislative agenda because of election politics.

“We have something else going on here … none of the various proposed constitutional amendments have gone through the judicial process to help the Senate determine whether a proposed amendment is necessary … changing the fundamental charter of our nation should not be proposed in a haphazard manner,” Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said on the Senate floor today.

“We all know what this is … it’s a political exercise being carried out on the fly,” Leahy continued. “Those trying to make this an election year issue see nothing out of bounds … not even the Constitution.”

A chief supporter of the proposed amendment, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., rejected that assertion in remarks on the Senate floor.

The amendment “is to provide moms and dads for the next generation of our children. Isn’t that important? Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security — standing up, defending marriage, defending the right for children to have moms and dads, to be raised in a nurturing and loving environment? Isn’t that what this debate is all about?” he asked.

“I would ask them this question: What harm would this amendment … that simply restates the law of every state in this country and protects them from judicial tyranny … do?”

“It’s not about hate, it’s not about gay bashing,” Santorum continued. “It’s simply about what’s doing the right thing for the basic glue that holds society together.”

Related items:

Kerry, Edwards only 2 avoiding issue

Dobson: Senators ‘cowed’ by homosexual lobbyists

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