- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005

Traditional-values groups in California and Massachusetts are gearing up for petition drives on constitutional amendments on marriage despite squabbles over the wording of the measures.

All of the amendments uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman and are designed to block courts from finding a right to same-sex “marriage.”

However, the measures differ over recognition of homosexual couples.

In California, there are two competing marriage amendments, both of which are striving for 1 million signatures and a place on a 2006 ballot.

ProtectMarriage.com, a coalition of more than a dozen traditional-values groups, began its petition drive Thursday.

Its amendment is fashioned after Proposition 22, California’s voter-approved marriage law, and would add the words, “A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state,” to the state constitution.

If passed, the amendment would prohibit “marriage imitations,” including the state’s new domestic-partnership law, said Andrew Pugno, a leader of ProtectMarriage.com.

Another amendment is offered by VoteYesMarriage.com, led by Randy Thomasson, founder and executive director of Campaign for Children and Families.

This is a “true blue” amendment that “protects everything about marriage — marriage licenses, marriage rights and marriage under law,” say VoteYesMarriage.com supporters, such as Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty Counsel, a Florida law firm active in homosexual “marriage” battles.

Mr. Thomasson and Mr. Pugno doubt that both their amendments will make it to a 2006 ballot.

ProtectMarriage.com’s amendment should succeed, said Mr. Pugno, because it’s easy to understand and similar to Proposition 22, which passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000.

Mr. Thomasson said his group’s longer amendment is necessary. “If you don’t have the word ‘rights’ in a marriage amendment, you are literally guaranteed to allow homosexual marriage by another name in the future,” he said.

VoteYesMarriage.com’s petition drive is on hold while the group goes to court to challenge the state’s official summary and title of its amendment.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, 19 conservative groups, including the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), Focus on the Family and the Massachusetts Catholic Council have formed VoteOnMarriage.org.

Tomorrow, they are scheduled to submit their marriage amendment to the state attorney general. If approved, supporters have 60 days to collect their goal of 120,000 signatures.

Massachusetts lawmakers must then approve the amendment twice before it can go to the November 2008 ballot. Some conservatives oppose the amendment because it leaves intact existing same-sex “marriages.”

“Massachusetts is the only state that has same-sex marriage established and to pass constitutional muster, we cannot affect the marriages that have happened. We can only move forward,” explained Kris Mineau, president of MFI. Constitutional scholars helped craft the amendment and it has the support of many Massachusetts lawmakers and Gov. Mitt Romney, he added.

Eighteen states have constitutional marriage amendments. Texans vote on an amendment in November and at least four states have votes planned for 2006.

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