The Senate voted down a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but Republicans will keep the issue alive in the House with another vote. Two Democrats, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, voted in favor of the ban.
The Senate voted down a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, but Republicans planned a vote in the House of Representatives to keep a national spotlight on the hot-button issue.
The 49 to 48 Senate vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle, thwarting President Bush and the mostly Republican lawmakers who said the Constitution must be amended to prevent judges from striking down existing state bans on gay marriage.
Democrats accused Republicans of exploiting a divisive issue they knew would fail in order to shore up conservative support before November congressional elections and divert attention from topics like the war in Iraq that reflect poorly on the party in control of the White House and Congress.