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Same-sex marriage ban fails in Wis.

Lawmakers who had passed a bill that would have defined marriage in Wisconsin as solely between a man and a woman failed to override the governor’s veto.

THE STATE ASSEMBLY on Wednesday fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to override Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto of a law he described as “mean-spirited.”

Doyle, a Democrat, said at the time that state law already clearly prohibits same-sex marriage.

Wisconsin law now defines marriage as a contract between a husband and wife. But supporters of the bill have warned that activist judges could interpret the language loosely and redefine marriage to allow gay couples to wed.

“Only Republicans in the Legislature can’t seem to figure out that husband means man and wife means woman,” Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow said after Wednesday night’s vote.

During the debate, the bill’s co-author, Republican Rep. Mark Gundrum, harshly criticized Doyle, saying the governor was “obsessed with the gay agenda.”

Democratic opponents of the bill accused Republicans of unfairly attacking gay people.

“You send a message with a bill like this,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, who is gay.

No state currently allows gay marriage, though Vermont allows civil unions between gays and California recently enacted legislation creating new rights for domestic partners. Two Canadian provinces have also legalized gay marriage.