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House Democrat Joins Uphill Effort To Stop All Same-Sex Couples’ Marriages

Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia wants a constitutional amendment to end the debate. He joins 39 Republicans in the uphill effort.

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WASHINGTON — West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall has become the first Democrat to sign on to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage in the U.S. as "only the union of a man and a woman."

"He apparently has a fondness for being on the wrong side of history," a Human Rights Campaign spokesman said Thursday evening.

Introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas following the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage in federal law, the House resolution has 39 co-sponsors, including Rahall. All the others, like Huelskamp, are Republicans.

Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper and Rahall signed on as co-sponsors on Tuesday. None of the senior members of the House leadership have co-sponsored the measure and have, in a court filing Thursday, announced an end to their legal defense of laws like DOMA that ban federal recognition of same-sex couples' marriage rights.

The proposed amendment would read, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

Human Rights Campaign vice president for communications Fred Sainz told BuzzFeed Thursday evening, "Congressman Rahall is signing on to a bill that luckily Speaker Boehner will never let see the light of day. Instead of standing up for hard-working West Virginia families, he's wasting valuable time and energy on an issue that's failed in Congress twice before. He apparently has a fondness for being on the wrong side of history."

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at

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