Challenges to Marriage Amendment Votes Denied, Pending

Not all 11 states with scheduled ballots on marriage protection amendments this fall may be able to vote on a definition of marriage.
( [email protected] ) Oct 08, 2004 05:29 PM EDT

The future of traditional marriage is still not in the clear even though several challenges to the ballot vote on amendments banning same-sex “marriage” have failed. What happened in Louisiana when the state Supreme Court turned down the 78% approval of the amendment could happen again, say amendment opponents.

District Judge William Morvant ruled Tuesday that the passed Louisiana marriage amendment was unconstitutional since it had two purposes; not only did it ban same-sex “marriages,” it also prohibited civil unions.

Opponents are ''elated to hear this turn of events in Louisiana,” said Keith Smith, who participated in a failed lawsuit to bar the ballot vote of a similar amendment in Oklahoma.

''It's especially wonderful for us in Oklahoma because we lost our first round in the state Supreme Court on similar grounds,'' Smith said. ''We knew we would keep fighting, and now there is hope that the Oklahoma Supreme Court -- if this amendment should pass -- will follow suit and throw out the amendment.''

Oklahoma and ten other states have ballots on marriage amendments scheduled on Nov 2. They are: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon and Utah.

In Georgia, the state Supreme Court granted a request by Lambda Legal and two state legislators for a speedy appeal on Thursday and set a court date for Oct. 19. Amendment opponents have until Tuesday to submit a brief explaining why the vote should be stopped. Plaintiffs are using similar arguments presented in the Louisiana case, claiming the proposed marriage amendment has more than one motive.

But the marriage amendment in Arkansas will stay on the ballot, according to a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday.

"This puts the issue of defining marriage in the hands of voters, where it should be," said Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council, a group supporting the amendment.

Lousiana Amendment Continued

After the state judge struck down the amendment, the state Attorney General’s Office lost little time in filing an appeal to the ruling in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court on Thursday.

"We're letting the courts decide which should hear it," said spokeswoman Kris Wartelle. "We believe the Supreme Court thinks it should be hearing the case."

The case would be heard as early as Wednesday and decided by Thursday in the 1st Circuit but reach the Supreme Court on Friday or the following Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Missouri remains the only state this year that has passed an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.