Same-sex marriage loses by 70% in Alaska, Hawaii

by Karen L. Willoughby , posted Wednesday, November 04, 1998 (21 years ago)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (BP)--About 70 percent of voters in Alaska and Hawaii voted Nov. 3 for a traditional concept of marriage.

In Alaska, with 91 percent of precincts reporting the morning of Nov. 4, 68 percent voted to place in their state constitution a ban on same-sex marriage; 32 percent voted in favor of same-sex marriage.

In Hawaii, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, 69 percent voted to approve a constitutional amendment that clears the way for the state legislature to implement existing law that only recognizes legal marital unions between one man and one woman.

"That's right on the button with the national polls," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the legalization of homosexual and lesbian marriage. I think they understand it has enormous consequences."

The clear wording on the ballot in Alaska made it easier for voters to know which way they wanted to vote, said Mary Ann Pease, spokesperson for the Alaska Family Coalition, which was organized statewide in June by business and religious leaders.

Ballot Measure No. 2, Joint Resolution No. 42 read: "This measure would amend the Declaration of Rights section of the Alaska Constitution to limit marriage. The amendment would say that to be valid, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman."

"We are thrilled that the people of Alaska have voted in favor of preserving the institution of marriage as existing only between one man and one woman," Pease said. "We see this as a positive direction for the children of Alaska and throughout the United States."

In Hawaii, the measure passed despite the fact the wording was much more nebulous, said Kelly Rosati, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum.

"The very confusing nature of the question and the very confusing and some would say deceptive nature of the advertising combined to make the outcome less certain than it should have been," Rosati said. In the ad campaign, she explained, "They compared a yes vote to return to the days of Japanese internment and they said a yes vote was a threat to a woman's right to abortion. They talked about every issue imaginable except the legalization of homosexual relationships."

Homosexual rights advocates have promised to not give up. "We're far from hearing the end of this," Pease said. "We have heard from the other side they will continue to pursue this though the courts."

The same thing was heard in Hawaii. "If you want to end the debate on same-sex marriage in Hawaii, vote no," said attorney Dan Foley in USA Today on Oct. 19. "If the amendment is approved, the legal fight continues."

A society has the right to say that some things are to be preferred and affirmed over other things, Land said.

"We have a right as individuals to believe in heterosexual marriage, and if we are able to convince a majority of our fellow Americans to agree with us then we have a right to have the society give civil sanction and affirmation to heterosexual, monogamous marriage that it does not give to other sexual liaisons," Land said. "That's called the democratic process. There's a huge difference between what we're willing to legally tolerate as consensual behavior between adults in private and what we're willing to affirm and hold up to our children and society as a healthy, preferred lifestyle."

The genesis of the same-sex marriage issue in Hawaii began in 1993 when, in a test case apparently bankrolled by homosexual rights advocates, the state supreme court unexpectedly decided limiting marriage to a one man/one woman union denied equal rights to same-sex unions. This led, in a series of steps, to the Nov. 3 vote.

The national Defense to Marriage Act, now law in 30 states, limits legal marriage to one that is only between one man and one woman. A federal law since 1966, it is the result of fears that same-sex marriage would be legalized in Hawaii, and that people would go to Hawaii to marry partners of the same sex and then return to a state that did not permit same-sex partners.

"If we were to allow same-sex marriage to be legalized, then we have sent the message to our society and to our young people that this is a perfectly normal healthy lifestyle choice, but in fact the Bible tells us in Romans 1 it is an unnatural, sinful choice," Land said. "[The Apostle] Paul says it's against nature.

"There's no mystery here," Land continued. "The homosexual and lesbian community, their agenda is clear. Their agenda is first the normalization and societal affirmation of their lifestyle and secondly the abnormalization and marginalization of those who believe homosexuality is unnatural. The homosexual community does not want tolerance; they want affirmation. That is something that someone who believes in biblical authority cannot give them."

The same-sex marriage issue spread to Alaska, which like Hawaii had a reputation for liberalism. Earlier this year the Alaska legislature limited marriage to one man and one woman. Almost immediately three lawsuits were filed -- two by homosexual rights advocates and one by the Alaska legislature, which didn't like the lieutenant governor's phrasing of the ballot measure. The state supreme court directed the final, simplified phrasing.

"To say that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, does not condemn homosexuality as a particularly serious sin is nonsense," Land said. "It is only in the last third of the 20th century when large segments of the Christian faith apostasied from any semblance of biblical Christianity and rushed headlong into the pursuit of the latest 'trendier than thou' theologian that there has been any question about what the Christian stance should be in regard to homosexuality.

"The Christian position," he said, "is that God loves homosexuals and loathes their sin and waits to redeem them and to deliver them from their particular besetting sin."


11/4/98 Marijuana for medical use gets green light in 5 states By Karen L. Willoughby

SPARKS, Nev. (BP)--Voters in five western states decisively registered their lack of objection to people using marijuana for pain relief on Nov. 3 ballot measures.

Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Alaska asked voters if medical use of marijuana should be permitted. Nevada registered a 59-41 split on a "yes" vote; Washington, 59-41 percent; Oregon, 55-45; Arizona, 57-43; and Alaska, 58-42.

This may be about as far at the state level that marijuana advocates will be able to push their agenda, said Barrett Duke, spokesman on the issue for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "But with all these medical marijuana issues passing on the state level, we can expect to see the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes debated more vigorously on the national level," Duke said.

It's already begun. USA Today reported Nov. 3 that the Justice Department is considering permitting government-supervised use of marijuana as a treatment for sick people. Agreeing to this as settlement of a 160-person, Philadelphia-based lawsuit would be a major reversal of Justice Department policy.

Still, the election-day question remains, Why did the people in five states agree to permit the medical use of marijuana?

"At the debate in our church, several members thought if it really would help those who are critically ill, they couldn't see any danger," said Earl Morley, pastor for the last eight years at First Baptist Church, Sparks, Nev. Morley leads the congregation each year just before elections to go over the ballot and discuss issues.

The "compassion" vote was one angle medical marijuana legalization advocates were pushing, Duke said. While "some of these people believe marijuana being used for medical purposes could help somebody," Duke also noted: "… there's a lot of money to be made if marijuana is out on the open market. Some people have invested in these elections the way they would for any financial opportunity."

"People are being convinced the medical use of marijuana is an individual choice," Duke continued. "Many people are willing to let a lot of folks do what they wouldn't do themselves. They're just following their general inclination not to impose their own moral values on other people unless they feel that in some way their own well-being or livelihood would be affected."

Unfortunately, the "personal choice" advocates apparently do not see the long-term ramifications to society as a whole "by moving us closer to the day that marijuana may be considered as an acceptable recreational drug, much as alcohol is today," Duke noted.

On the "compassion" issue, Duke stated, "I think it's tragic that so many people are being duped into believing the medical use of marijuana is justifiable. There are no scientific studies that indicate marijuana provides any significant relief for any medical condition in comparison to the drugs that already are available."

Tim Foster, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, The Dalles, Ore., another of the states in which a majority of voters supported the medical use of marijuana, said, "Marijuana slows you down and keeps you from being effective. … I know several young men whose lives have been messed up because of marijuana. They just don't have any drive to do what's right. They have a desire to do what's right, but not the drive. Marijuana keeps them from being the kind of Christians God wants them to be."

Three former U.S. presidents -- George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford -- wrote a "Dear Fellow Citizen" letter in the days just before the election to voters in the states where medical use of marijuana was on the ballot. Their aim was to convince readers to not vote for medical use of marijuana until government researchers determine marijuana is medically effective.

Their joint letter was the brainchild of White House drug control policy director Barry R. McCaffrey.

"These great former elected national leaders, who we all respect so much, know that we cannot use the ballot box to determine what is safe and effective medicine," McCaffrey said in distributing the letter to the media. "Nor should we send a terribly mixed message to our children."

But that's what happened, Duke said. "I think it's extremely significant that these former presidents spoke out on this issue," he said. "It's extremely disappointing that people would not heed words of warning from men who have been in a position to know more about this issue than the average person.

"The truth of the matter is, the people are not listening to reason. They are voting their emotions," Duke said.

The medical use of marijuana issue also appeared on ballots in Colorado and Washington, D.C. In Colorado the vote was not counted because it was determined just days before the election that not enough valid signatures had been obtained to legally place the medical use of marijuana issue on the ballot. In Washington, D.C., the vote results were not released because Congress determined just days before it adjourned that the District of Columbia, which Congress controls, was not to spend any money that would result in the legalization of drugs. A decision was made that an announcement of the vote would cost money.

Medical marijuana was on the ballot for the second time in Arizona. In 1996, residents there voted to permit doctors to prescribe marijuana and other illegal drugs for seriously ill patients. This year, Ballot Measure 300 would have curtailed that permission until the federal government passed a law approving the medical use of marijuana. Voters in a 57/43 percent split said they didn't want to restrict the law passed in 1996.

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