The US Senate Thursday rejected a
health care amendment that would have ended a gay marriage law in the
District of Columbia.
Utah Senator Bob Bennett, a Republican,
introduced his amendment to the health care reconciliation bill on
Tuesday. The measure's statement of purpose said: “To protect the
democratic process and the right of the people of the District of
Columbia to define marriage.”
The measure sought to stop the issuance
of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in the District until
voters could weigh in on the issue.
“This bill does not take any position
with respect to gay marriage, simply allows the district to hold a
referendum,” Bennett said on the Senate floor.
Utah lawmakers have led the charge to
end gay nuptials in the District. Jason Chaffetz, a freshman
Republican representative, introduced a House resolution in January
to block the law from taking effect. Bennett offered a similar
measure in the Senate. Neither resolution received a hearing.
Opponents of the law made a last-ditch
attempt to derail the March 3 start of the law by appealing to the
Supreme Court. In
denying an emergency stay, Chief Justice John Roberts said the court
was unlikely to take up the measure.
Two Republican senators – Olympia
Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine – crossed the aisle to join all
Democrats in defeating the amendment with a 59 to 36 vote.
Five senators, including Ohio Senator
George Voinovich, a Republican, did not vote.