- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The passage of all 11 marriage amendments on Election Day, plus two more earlier this year, shows that Americans don’t want radical changes in marriage and are unwilling to wait for activist judges to make sweeping social changes, traditional values groups said yesterday.

“The courts gave us abortion on demand in 1973,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “The American people stated today that they are not going to allow the courts to do the same by imposing same-sex marriage on the people of this country.”

On Tuesday, nearly one-fifth of the electorate voted on amendments to define traditional marriage in their state constitutions and to outlaw other kinds of marriagelike unions for couples, including same-sex couples.

Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah approved their amendments by 2-to-1 or greater margins.

Michigan voters passed their amendment 59 percent to 41 percent, and Oregon voters passed theirs 57 percent to 43 percent.

Oregon was the one state that homosexual-rights activists had hoped would reject the marriage amendment, and they poured almost $3 million into the effort to defeat it. The result was the largest opposition — 43 percent — to any of the amendments.

“We are incredibly proud of the fact that Oregonians made this such a close race when other states are passing these amendments by very wide margins,” said Aisling Coghlan, campaign manager for the No on Constitutional Amendment 36 campaign. “That alone is a victory.”

The Oregon amendment now becomes an instant test case.

A major purpose of these amendments is to clarify to the courts that they cannot redefine marriage, as the high court in Massachusetts did last year when it legalized same-sex “marriage” in that state.

The Oregon Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case seeking to legalize same-sex “marriage” in that state.

Now that “the people have spoken, the case must be dismissed because the constitution itself has been changed to protect marriage,” said Mat Staver, leader of Liberty Counsel in Orlando, Fla., which is defending traditional marriage laws in several states, including Oregon. “It’s over.”

Early analyses showed that the amendments were supported by many groups, including social conservatives and evangelical Christians.

In Arkansas, where the marriage amendment garnered 75 percent approval, Republicans voted for it 9-1 and Democrats voted for it 7-3. Married voters in Arkansas favored the amendment by a margin of 4-1.

In Ohio, the amendment received equal support from men and women and blacks and whites. There also is evidence from exit polls that a substantial number of black voters pulled the lever for both the marriage amendment and President Bush, said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.

It’s not clear, however, that Americans who voted for the marriage amendments automatically voted for Mr. Bush. Both Michigan and Oregon went for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, and in Georgia, black churchgoers supported the marriage amendment but voted for liberal Democratic candidates, such as former Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, who reclaimed her House seat, said Robert Knight, who studies family issues at Concerned Women for America.

Homosexual-rights groups said they would keep pressing for equality.

Michigan’s amendment battle “advanced recognition of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in ways that no other opportunity has afforded in the last decade,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation, a homosexual-rights group in Michigan.

The next step is to “harness the great energy and commitment to equality” that exists in Michigan, he said.

Homosexual-rights groups say they will challenge the amendments passed in Georgia, Ohio, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Earlier this year, Missouri and Louisiana voters passed marriage amendments by 71 percent and 78 percent, respectively. The Louisiana amendment since has been overturned in state court as overly broad, but proponents are appealing that ruling.

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