After two days of debate, the Senate has rejected a constitutional change to ban gay marriage.
The vote was 49 to 48 with a few moderate Republicans joining most Senate Democrats in opposition.
But supporters say the individual votes will give Conservative Republicans a reason to show up on Election Day in November.
The test ballot fell eleven short of the 60 that would be needed to send the matter on for an up-or-down vote by the full senate.
Republican John McCain, who opposed the measure, says he thinks most Americans don't buy the argument that traditional marriage is under siege.