President George Bush this week stepped up his campaign to amend the US constitution to ban same-sex marriage as the Senate began debating the issue.

The Senate was expected to vote on the proposed amendment on Wednesday night (after Sydney Star Observer went to press). However, political commentators predicted the motion would fail, as it did last time the issue was brought before a Senate vote in 2004.

Speaking at the White House in front of anti-gay lobbyists on Monday, Bush said the amendment was necessary because activist judges had struck down publicly supported state marriage bans.

This national question requires a national solution. And on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States, Bush said, CNN reported.

A constitutional amendment is the most democratic method by which our country can resolve this issue.

Bush made three public addresses on the topic of gay marriage in the past week.

The president has been accused of using gay marriage to distract from issues like Iraq and petrol prices and to boost his sinking popularity.

According to Democrat senator Hillary Clinton, there was a long list of things the American people were worried about, but what we’re going to do this week [debating gay marriage] is not on the list, she said on Monday, Fox News reported.

Even the president’s wife, Laura Bush, said last month she was against gay marriage being used as a campaign tool and that the issue needed to be discussed with sensitivity.

Gay Republican group, Log Cabin Republicans, wrote to Bush denouncing his stance.

Your effort to codify discrimination against our families, including men and women in uniform while the nation is at war, is offensive and unworthy of the office of the presidency, executive director Patrick Guerriero said.

In 2004 the proposed amendment fell 19 votes short of the 67 it needed in the Senate to pass. America’s ABC News said this week’s vote was also unlikely to see the amendment passed and that the government was simply trying to rally right-wing support.

North of the border, Canada’s new Conservative Party prime minister Stephen Harper announced the issue of overturning gay marriage would be debated in parliament before the end of the year.

While it was unlikely there would be enough MPs in favour of such a ban, Harper is said to hope that discussing the issue will garner him support.

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