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In its first direct vote on the issue, the U.S. Senate has rejected an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill that would have stopped same-sex marriage in the District until a referendum could be held.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) had introduced that amendment; the full Senate rejected it early this morning by a vote of 59 to 36, with five members not voting.

GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine joined all Democrats who voted in rejecting Bennett’s amendment.

Their votes could be a sign that future efforts in the Senate to overturn the law will also be unsuccessful during the current Congress.

Some votes by Democrats this morning may have had more to do with efforts to keep the health care bill free of amendments than with same-sex marriage, meaning they could vote differently on this issue if it comes up in another fashion.

But Snowe and Collins, both of whom voted against the health care bill, appear to have based their votes against Bennett’s amendment on principle.

Neither took a position on a referendum in Maine last year to overturn that state’s same-sex marriage law. Snowe and Collins, both supporters of gay rights, also declined to tell reporters after the election how they voted on the referendum, which was narrowly approved.

Collins’ stance on Bennett’s amendment could be especially important because she is the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight over the District.


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