George Bush’s bid to amend the US Constitution to ban gay marriage was embarrassingly defeated in the Senate last night.

Debate on the issue was ended when six Republicans joined 43 Democrats and one independent to vote against moving to a final vote on the amendment.

Republicans conceded earlier in the week they didn’t have the majority necessary to get the amendment through.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry accused Republicans of pushing the proposal merely to rally their conservative base for the November presidential elections, Reuters reported. Democrats also argued that four days of Senate debate on the issue could have been better spent on such issues as health care and national security.

The floor of the United States Senate should only be used for the common good, not issues designed to divide us for political purposes, Kerry said in a statement.

Bush expressed regret that the Republican-led Senate blocked the proposal, which would define marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman, and urged the Republican-led House of Representatives to pass it later in the year. It is important for our country to continue the debate on this important issue, he said.

I’m not of the view that we’re wasting words here,” said Senator Gordon Smith, a Republican who supports a constitutional amendment. He said today’s vote is chapter one” in a longer debate that could last years, Bloomberg.com reported.

Head of the Human Rights Campaign, Cheryl Jacques, said, Today we saw President Bush and the Republican leadership attempt to divide America and it backfired.

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