- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Nevada voters' 2-to-1 approval Tuesday of a constitutional amendment against homosexual "marriage" makes it the 36th state to use its law to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"This resounding public endorsement of marriage represents a powerful political statement," said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, a group trying to define marriage in the U.S. Constitution.
"As a political matter, this means we are now only two states short of the total of 38 needed to ratify the Federal Marriage Amendment," legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to state that marriage involves people of different sexes, Mr. Daniels added.
An aide to Rep. Ronnie Shows, Mississippi Democrat and lead sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, said that regardless of state constitutional amendments, a ban on homosexual "marriage" would require passage in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
Mr. Daniels agreed, saying his group has always recognized its biggest challenge is to get the amendment out of the Senate.
"When we take this to the people, we win," he said yesterday. He said he's hopeful the odds of Senate passage will improve with Republicans in control next year.
But Michael Adams, director of education for Lambda Legal, a homosexual rights advocacy group, said Alliance for Marriage is "dreaming" if it believes its campaign will result in an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"These are campaigns designed to further anti-gay bigotry, not to advance any kind of public policy," Mr. Adams said yesterday in a telephone interview.
The vote Tuesday marked the second time in two years Nevadans overwhelmingly rejected homosexual "marriage." Nevada constitutional rules require any amendments to win approval from the voters in two separate elections.
The Nevada vote, in which 67 percent of voters supported a ban on homosexual "marriage," was part of an election trend nationally in which voters defeated some key liberal ballot initiatives.
Proposals turned down by voters included decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio; a measure to allow the growing, harvesting and sale of industrial hemp in South Dakota; measures in Oregon that would have raised personal income-tax rates and payroll taxes to fund universal health care and would have required labeling of genetically modified foods.
Proposals allowing Election Day voter registration in California and Colorado also failed. In addition, a union-backed measure to raise the minimum wage in Oregon to $6.90 an hour in 2003 narrowly passed, but a proposal to give collective-bargaining rights to firefighters in Missouri was defeated.
M. Dane Waters, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a nonpartisan research group that monitors ballot questions, said that, in Massachusetts, opponents of homosexual "marriage" had tried to get a measure similar to the one that passed in Nevada on the Massachusetts state ballot.
"They collected 130,000 signatures to get it on the Massachusetts ballot, but the state legislature adjourned without putting it on the ballot," Mr. Waters said yesterday.
The signature drive was apparently an unsuccessful attempt to head off a legal ruling in Massachusetts next year, which Alliance for Marriage anticipates will legalize homosexual "marriages."
Three states Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas had animal welfare initiatives on their ballots, and two were approved. The measures ended cockfighting in Oklahoma and made Florida the first state to outlaw the confining of pregnant pigs in small metal cages. But Arkansas voters, by a margin of 62 percent to 28 percent, defeated a measure that would have treated extreme animal cruelty as a felony.
Seventy percent of Massachusetts voters approved an end to bilingual education in public schools, but Colorado voters rejected English-only instruction by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.
"This was a victory of historical proportions. It's a great day for the future of immigrant children in the state of Massachusetts," Lincoln Tamayo, chairman of the successful English for the Children of Massachusetts campaign, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Perhaps, the biggest ballot wins for liberals Tuesday were three state constitutional amendments approved by Florida voters. One, which passed by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent with the backing of major health organizations, bans smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants.
Floridians also approved constitutional amendments that would provide every 4-year-old in the state a "high-quality prekindergarten learning opportunity" and would require that the Florida Legislature provide money to reduce class size to specific levels by the 2019 school year.
"Voters were selective and smart and strategic" in approving ballot measures Tuesday, said Kristina Wilfore, executive director of the liberal Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which does not believe liberals fared poorly at the polls this week.
Mr. Waters put it this way: "Overall, voters were cautious. They voted down all the big-ticket items, except for education."

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