Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Alabama this week became the 20th state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Early returns from the Tuesday vote showed 81 percent supported the amendment, which also says the state will not recognize common-law marriage or unions that replicate “marriage” of people of the same sex.

“This is a rebuke to all those liberals on the U.S. Senate floor during the Marriage Protection Amendment debate who have been telling us that Americans don’t care about the marriage issue,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute.

“We’re real pleased,” said Matt Chancey, director of the Family Policy Network of Alabama.

Howard Bayless, board chairman of the homosexual rights group Equality Alabama, told the Associated Press that despite the loss, he was heartened by the outcome because Mississippi voters approved a similar measure in 2004 by a wider margin: 86 percent.

“Over 170,000 people said they don’t want to write discrimination into our Constitution,” Mr. Bayless said.

Of the 20 state marriage amendments, several have been challenged in court by homosexual rights groups and their allies.

The Nebraska amendment was overturned last year by a federal court and is awaiting a ruling from a federal appeals court.

Yesterday, the Tennessee Supreme Court heard arguments about a marriage amendment that is slated to appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union said the amendment wasn’t properly publicized and should be dropped from the ballot. State lawmakers urged the court to uphold the amendment, noting that a lower court judge had ruled earlier this year that there was widespread publicity about the amendment in the press.

Five other states — Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin — have marriage amendments on their November ballots, and petition drives for two amendments are under way in Arizona and Colorado. In Illinois, about 347,000 signatures have been turned in to place a referendum on the ballot asking lawmakers to pass a marriage amendment.


• In Pennsylvania, the House this week passed a marriage amendment, 136-61. The measure now goes to the Senate. The amendment must pass both chambers in successive sessions before going to voters, possibly in 2007.

• In Georgia, a 2004 marriage amendment was overturned by a court last month because it addressed more than one subject. The Georgia Supreme Court has agreed to hold an expedited hearing on the case on June 27. Gov. Sonny Perdue has said he is willing, if necessary, to call a special legislative session in August to craft another amendment for the November ballot.

• In Washington state, a conservative group failed to get enough signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot to repeal a new civil rights protection law.

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