The US Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a wide margin and delivered an unexpectedly strong defeat to President George W. Bush and other Republicans who still hope the issue will rally Republican voters for November's elections.
The senators' vote was 49-48 to stop debate and bring the amendment to a yes-or-no decision. It fell 11 votes short of the 60 needed to kill the measure in the Senate for this year.
The 49 votes to keep the amendment alive were one more than the measure received in 2004 the last time the Senate voted. Proponents had predicted publicly that the amendment would get at least a 51-vote majority in the 100-member Senate considering the gain of four Republican seats since then.