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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After a procedural vote today of 48 to 50 against the Federal Marriage Amendment, Senator Jay Rockefeller discussed his decision to vote to oppose the legislation amending the Constitution.   

“Like many West Virginians, I strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman.  I also know that this definition of marriage is already fully protected by West Virginia and federal law.  A constitutional amendment is not needed to protect the sanctity of marriage, and in fact could challenge West Virginia’s own states’ rights. 

“I have heard from many West Virginians who are worried about morality in America.  They want to be sure that marriage is protected for themselves and for their children.  I myself am not comfortable with same-sex marriage, and I want to assure every West Virginian that our definition of marriage – and our right to define marriage as we believe it -- is not in jeopardy. 

“In 1996, I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.  That federal law specifically defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  It also prohibits any state from imposing an alternate definition of marriage on any other state.  In 2000, West Virginia passed its own law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  This is the law of the land,” Rockefeller said. 

There are two laws, which define marriage for West Virginians as a union between a man and a woman.  

The Defense of Marriage Act which was signed into law in 1996 states that, “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” 

West Virginia Code § 48-2-104: Contents of the application for a marriage license states that, “the application for a marriage license must contain a statement of the full name of both female and male parties…”, and it also mandates that “Every application for a marriage license must contain the following statement: ‘Marriage is designed to be a loving and lifelong union between a woman and man’.” 

Senator Rockefeller voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed the Senate by a vote of 85 to 14 and was signed into law on September 21, 1996.