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Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Marriage Protection Amendment Dies on the Senate Floor

The Marriage Protection Amendment died today in a cloture vote. It will be back.

Forty-nine US Senators, mostly Republicans, voted yea. Forty-eight, mostly Democrats, voted nay. (Here's the roll call, and here's a brief CBN article.) Three did not vote. Here's why this one-vote margin, an apparent victory, is a defeat for the S. J. Res. 1, to propose the Marriage Protection Amendment for ratification by the states.

It is widely known that a Senate filibuster is stopped by a cloture vote, which requires a three-fifths majority, or 60 of 100 Senators, if all are voting. Less known is that a cloture vote is the normal means of closing debate and bringing an issue to a vote, even when there is no filibuster. Today's vote was on cloture -- specifically, a "Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to the Consideration of S. J. Res. 1" -- so it fell ten votes short of passage, even though more voted yea than nay. Although this vote is technically on bringing the resolution to a vote, not on the resolution itself, the resolution itself is essentially dead. Passage of the resolution itself would have required a two-thirds majority, so it's not as if the cloture defeat blocked something that would otherwise have happened.

House of Representatives leadership says it will bring the resolution to a vote there anyway. It's a election year, after all, and Republicans want Democrats on the record in a roll call vote. One house down, one to go.

No doubt a similar resolution will be introduced in the next session. If Congress is still under Republican leadership, it might get a little further than it did this time.

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