MARRIAGE DIGEST: Marriage amendments being fought in court

by Michael Foust, posted Friday, August 27, 2004 (15 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Having lost at the polls in Missouri, same-sex "marriage" supporters now are fighting in courts nationwide to keep constitutional marriage amendments off state ballots.

Court battles are brewing in at least four states -- Arkansas, Ohio, Louisiana and Oklahoma -- where homosexual activists are suing to keep voters from having a say.

That total does not count Michigan, where supporters of a marriage amendment are suing to get it placed on the ballot after the state's canvassing board -- which certifies petitions -- deadlocked in a 2-2 vote.

The latest legal challenge was filed Aug. 26 in Arkansas, where pro-family groups collected more than twice the number of signatures needed to place the amendment on the November ballot. The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit, and the state Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 23.

The legal challenges nationwide come after a marriage amendment passed in Missouri in early August with 71 percent of the vote.

"This is nothing more than smoke and mirrors to try to keep this issue out of the hands of voting Arkansans," Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee, told the Arkansas News Bureau.

Louisiana voters are scheduled to vote on a marriage amendment Sept. 18, although a court challenge has put that in jeopardy. The state's high court will have the final say.

In Ohio, an attorney representing homosexual activists filed protests against petitions in five counties. Although the petitions have yet to be certified, the legal tactic is meant to delay the process. Needing 323,000 signatures, amendment supporters submitted 391,000.

Polls consistently show that the amendments are popular. In a Tulsa World/KOTV-TV poll, 82 percent of Oklahoma voters said they support the proposed marriage amendment. In Michigan, an EPIC/MRA poll had support for that state's amendment at 61 percent. In Ohio, a proposed poll was supported by 56 percent of voters in a University of Cincinnati Ohio Poll.

The polls, though, may not be an accurate forecast of the outcome on Election Day. In the weeks leading up to the Missouri vote, a Kansas City Star/KMBC-TV poll had amendment support in the Show Me State at 62 percent -- nine points below the final total.

As many as 12 states could vote on marriage amendments between now and November. With the exception of Louisiana, all of them would be on Nov. 2.

State marriage amendments tie the hands of state courts, preventing Massachusetts-type rulings legalizing same-sex "marriage." But they can be overturned in federal courts, where Nebraska's marriage amendment is being challenged. For that reason, pro-family groups are supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

ALA. AMENDMENT? -- Two state legislators in Alabama -- one a Democrat, the other a Republican -- are encouraging Gov. Bob Riley to push for a state marriage amendment if he calls a special session in October. The amendment would be part of a session dealing with other issues, such as healthcare costs, the Associated Press reported.

Riley says he supports an amendment but cannot comment until he decides whether to call a special session. If the amendment passes the legislature, it would not go before voters until 2006, state Rep. Gerald Allen, a Republican, told AP. It would not be passed in time to get it on the November ballot.

CHEROKEES SIDE WITH MARRIAGE -- The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council has voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The vote in mid-August came after a lesbian couple successfully filed for a tribal marriage application and was "married," AP reported. A Cherokee Nation District Court will determine if the "marriage" is valid.

"If we don't address this, we'll have a flood of same-sex marriages," an unidentified Cherokee member said, according to AP. "This will be a black eye on the Cherokee Nation. Even the state of Oklahoma doesn't allow same-sex marriage."

IT'S AN ORDER -- An Oregon judge has ordered Benton County, Ore., to begin issuing marriage licenses again after the county stopped issuing the licenses -- to any couple -- in March, AP reported.

The county was poised in March to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but reversed itself and decided not to issue marriage licenses to any couple -- heterosexual or homosexual -- until a state court ruled on the issue of same-sex "marriage."

A heterosexual couple sued the county demanding a license, and Judge Wayne R. Harris agreed, saying the county was failing to provide citizens a needed service.

MANITOBA, TOO? -- The Canadian province of Manitoba will become the fourth province to recognize same-sex "marriage" if homosexual activists are successful with a lawsuit this fall.

Manitoba officials apparently favor same-sex "marriage" -- The Winnipeg Sun reported that Manitoba's justice minister has chosen not to defend the current law, which limits marriage to one man and one woman, in court.

British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario have legalized same-sex "marriage," as does the Yukon territory.


For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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