WASHINGTON – By a stunning bipartisan vote of 50 to 48 on July 14, the Senate rejected the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). The fact that 48 senators who backed this divisive amendment couldn’t even muster a simple majority sends a strong message that the “politics of distraction will fail,” according to a statement issued by the Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization.

“This was an attempt to divide Americans that backfired and divided Republicans,” said Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The defeat of the FMA occurred following a stunning week on Capitol Hill. After a year of monopolizing precious Senate time on the amendment, the Republican leadership retreated.

“Faced with an embarrassing defeat, the Senate leadership rejected an up or down vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment,” Jacques said. “This debate has always been about politics and undermining the Constitution is their tool.”

Every poll shows the American people want Congress focused on issues like rising health care costs, the hemorrhaging of jobs and the war in Iraq. Gay marriage and the Federal Marriage Amendment rank last on the list.

“The optimism and fairness of the American people will prevail,” Jacques added.