More States Expected to Vote on Marriage Amendments

A large majority of states are expected to vote on constitutional amendments defining marriage in the next two election cycles, joining 17 states which have already approved marriage amendments.
( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2004 02:52 PM EST

Energized by the 11-state sweep victory on constitutional marriage amendments, pro-family groups are gearing up for their next phase of battle in preserving traditional marriage.

All states with a constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman only passed the initiative, some with overwhelming approval in the upper 70 and 80 percentile. The states were: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah.

“From conservative states like Mississippi to liberal states like Oregon, every amendment passed by a landslide majority,” said Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. “The American people will not allow judicial tampering with the definition of marriage.”

The fresh batch of victories brought the total of states with constitutional amendments banning marital unions that are not between two heterosexual couples, including same-sex marriage, to a sizable 17. Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada already have similar marriage amendments while Louisiana and Missouri also approved similar initiatives this year. Supporters of the Louisiana initiative are currently challenging a district judge’s ruling which declared the amendment unconstitutional after the ballot vote.

Although 37 states already have laws defining marriage and outlawing same-sex marriage, also known as the Defense of Marriage Act, conservatives intended the initiatives to protect the laws on a constitutional level.

Conservatives were awakened to pro-family and marriage issues since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed some 4,000 same-sex couples to marry in February and the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

“There is no doubt that because 4 radical left-wing Massachusetts judges ruled that homosexual ‘marriages’ are constitutional last year, there was a conservative backlash which played a major role in the election outcome yesterday,” said Roberta Combs, president of Christian Coalition of America, the largest pro-family grassroots organization. “Christian evangelicals made the major difference once again this year."

A large majority of states are expected to join the momentum of safeguarding traditional marriage laws from legal challenge and place similar constitutional amendments on the ballots in the next two election cycles, according to pro-family groups.

According to Concerned Women for America of Illinois, citizens in Illinois are eager for their chance to decide the future of marriage after seeing the results.

“Even liberal-leaning Oregon voters understand that marriage is an institution they are not yet willing to yield to people who differ only by their sexual preference,” said Kathy Valente, the state director for Concerned Women for America of Illinois.

“This is very encouraging to us in Illinois,” she said.

Pro-family efforts to place a constitutional marriage amendment on the state ballot failed in the House earlier this year. The proposed bill was never assigned a Committee to review it.

However, Valente said a recent 13-city pro-traditional marriage throughout Illinois, which was sponsored by pro-family groups such as CWA of Illinois and Illinois Family Institute, gave new hope to revive the issue.

“All over the state, in every city where we rallied, we saw tremendous support for preserving traditional marriage as God established it,” she commented.

“Mike Madigan must understand that Illinoisans are no different from the people in the 13 states that got the chance to vote on constitutional amendments this year," said Valente, referring to the Minority Leader of the Illinois House. "We, too, want traditional marriage protected and not devalued by those who are driven by an agenda based on selfish desires."

Amidst the celebration of the 11-state sweep, pro-family leaders remind traditional marriage supporters that the ultimate goal is to pass a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage, known both as the Federal Marriage Amendment and Marriage Protection Amendment, that will be immune to activist judges.

"Almost a dozen and a half states have now refused to hold their peace and have spoken loudly against the effort of judges to force same-sex 'marriage' on them,” stated Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of the groups leading the charge to protect traditional marriage. “However, the next Congress must pass a Marriage Protection Amendment to ensure that yesterday's overwhelming vote is not overturned by unelected federal judges."

In June, the Senate blocked a vote on the FMA. The House version of the amendment failed to garner two-thirds approval in the House.

Carlson agreed, saying the victories in the eleven states gave “an enormous boost for the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

“Opponents of the FMA said a marriage amendment isn’t needed. Yesterday, voters in 11 states disagreed,” he said. “Congressional critics of a federal amendment said, ‘Leave the definition of marriage to the states.’ Voters in the states replied, ‘This is the definition of marriage we want.’”

Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, also acknowledged the choice of the people in respect to marriage.

“As we continue the call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this election's victories once again demonstrate that American voters believe in traditional marriage,” he said in a statement.

“The fight will continue, because it must continue,” Carlson said. “Yesterday, voters in 11 states gave the cause of marriage and the natural family an unstoppable momentum. Even the judiciary must take notice of this historic expression of popular sentiment.”