A national ban on same-sex marriage is once again on the agenda in the US Congress after the Republican Party introduced a new bill to the House of Representatives which may also ban civil unions.

The bill would amend the federal constitution to state that marriage shall consist only of a legal union of a man and a woman, and that no state court will have jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage. It also said that no state has to recognise any same-sex union which gives the same legal rights as marriage.

The bill arrived just days after President George Bush again called for a constitutional amendment and criticised a Californian judge for declaring the marriage ban in that state unconstitutional.

The Democratic Party has joined gay rights groups in arguing that discrimination doesn’t belong in the constitution, and some Republicans agree. Last July a similar constitutional amendment was easily defeated in the Senate when six Republicans joined 43 Demo-crats in voting it down.

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