Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Fails in Senate

(Baton Rouge-AP) -- Louisiana's Senate fell one vote short of passing a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions. Today's vote was 25-to-eight. The measure needed a two-thirds vote -- 26 in the 39-member Senate. Six members were either absent or did not vote. The issue is not dead.

The amendment's sponsor, Senator John Hainkel, can try to round up one more vote for the measure and ask for another vote. Meanwhile, a similar measure is awaiting debate in the House, where it would need approval from 70 in the 105-member body. Opponents say there is no need for the amendment because Louisiana law already forbids same-sex marriage.

Senator Joel Chaisson said that, while he opposes same-sex marriage, amending the constitution would send a message of discrimination. Hainkel argued that a court could overturn existing law without constitutional protection. He expressed some dismay that the question of whether marriage is between a man and a woman was up for debate.