GOP votes down civil unions

TAMPA--The Republican party platform will continue to call for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex unions, after a drafting committee rejected an attempt to allow for civil unions for gays and lesbians.

A loud majority of the committee opposed the amendment in a voice vote.

Discussion continues in the committee of other amendments that would also soften the party's platform language on marriage.

Barbara Ann Fenton of Rhode Island suggested that the 112 members of the GOP platform committee endorse new language that would call for religions to define marriage in their own way but allow government to offer civil unions to both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Fenton said she opposes gay marriage as a Roman Catholic. But, she added, "those are my religious belief and this country was founded on the separation of church and state. Coming from Rhode Island, we take that pretty seriously."

Other delegates said support for traditional marriage is a bedrock Republican principle.

"Government extends benefits to marriage because marriage benefits society," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana. "It benefits children, which in turn benefits society."

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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