The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the House of Representatives as it joined the Senate in overwhelmingly rejecting a proposal to amend the Constitution to deny marriage protections to gay and lesbian couples.

The move follows a similar rejection by both houses of Congress in 2004, and by the Senate last month.

“Today, the House joined the Senate in rejecting the use of the Constitution to discriminate against Americans,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.

“Election year politics should not be used to target gay and lesbian families. As they have done before, the House today rightly rejected that ploy.”

The House vote was 236 to 187, with one member voting present, which was, once again, far short of the two-thirds required to pass a constitutional amendment. The ACLU noted that supporters of the amendment gained no ground over their major defeat two years ago.

“Today’s vote makes clear that the political tactic of division and discrimination hasn’t gained any new supporters,” said Christopher Anders, an ACLU lawyer, “It’s time for the House to start addressing the real problems of America and get the country on track.”

Last month, by a vote 49 to 48, the US Senate failed, for the second time, to garner the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture, a procedural move that would limit floor discussion and bring the measure to a vote.