From Baptist Press:
7 states pass marriage amendments., civil unions defeated in Colorado
By Michael Foust — BP News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A majority of states in America now have adopted constitutional marriage amendments.
Seven states passed amendments Nov. 7 protecting the natural definition of marriage, bringing to 27 the number of states nationwide that have adopted amendments aimed at prohibiting "gay marriage." An eighth state, Arizona, seemed to be on the verge of becoming the first one to defeat an amendment, although conservatives there still hoped to see the final count yield a victory.
The seven states passed the amendments with an average of 63.6 percent of the vote, ranging from 52 percent in South Dakota to 80 percent in Tennessee. In Colorado, conservatives celebrated a double victory, watching the amendment win easily while also helping defeat Referendum I, which would have granted same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage. It was a somewhat stunning loss for Referendum I after it led in pre-election polls.
"This shows that, nationwide, Americans still support marriage," Glen Lavy, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. "They know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and they're willing to say so by their votes."
A victory in the blue state of Wisconsin may have been the most significant for pro-family groups. It faced stiff opposition in the weeks leading up to the election but passed easily, 59-41 percent. Wisconsin became the third state that voted Democratic in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to adopt a marriage amendment, joining Michigan and Oregon.
"There are a number of things that are not partisan issues, that we can work with people from any party on, and that's protecting marriage, protecting life, protecting religious freedom," Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America and a supporter of the amendments, told Baptist Press.
Tennessee's amendment passed easily despite a high hurdle that all constitutional amendments on the ballot there face. Such amendments must get not only a majority of votes, but also more "yes" votes than half of all the votes cast in the governor's election. Approximately 1,800,000 votes were cast for governor, meaning the amendment needed more than 900,000 votes. On Nov. 7, it garnered more than 1,400,000.
"Perhaps the most encouraging hidden nugget in last night’s results is that 77 percent of 18-29-year-old Tennessee voters voted for the ban on same-sex marriage, confirming social conservative trends among younger voters," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Homosexual activists had hoped to tally a significant victory in Colorado by passing Referendum I, which would have legalized domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Instead, they suffered a significant loss. With 88 percent of the precincts reporting, Referendum I was losing, 53-47 percent. In the final two weeks of the campaign, it led in separate polls by four and five points, although support had dipped below 50 percent. A September poll has it leading by 20 points.
"We knew from the outset that if we could just let people know what Referendum I was really about that they'd reject it," Jim Pfaff, a spokesperson for Colorado Family Action, told BP. "... Referendum I would have given all the rights and benefits of spouses to same-sex couples. It would have redefined the terms spouse, family and next of kin in all of Colorado law, making more than 1,000 changes in statutes. That's the message we got out to voters, and Colorado voters, once they had an opportunity to hear that, made the right decision."
Lavy said the fact that a majority of states have marriage amendments could impact any future "gay marriage" case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It is significant from a perspective of the U.S. Supreme Court's approach to constitutional questions, because in recent years the court has been saying that the trends in the states are significant for whether something is constitutional," he said.
For instance, in the Lawrence v. Texas decision, the court said that "because most of the states no longer had laws prohibiting same-sex relationships, there was no rational basis for the Texas law," Lavy said.
The growing movement to pass marriage amendments further weakens a key argument by homosexual activists, Lavy said.
"Marriage opponents are always trying to relate this battle to the civil rights battle in the ’60s," he said. "There was never a time that there was a significant number of states with constitutional amendments prohibiting interracial marriage.... By 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia [which overturned interracial marriage bans], only 17 states had laws prohibiting interracial marriage. So the consensus was going the other direction."
Arizona's amendment trailed 51-49 percent — by 32,000 votes — with 99 percent of the precincts reporting. Conservatives, though, were still holding out hope that enough absentee and outstanding ballots could help make up the difference. Much like a few other states, opponents of Arizona's amendment focused not on the issue of "gay marriage" but on other issues, such as domestic partner benefits. If the amendment fails, conservatives can try again in 2008 by launching another petition drive.
Vote totals for the seven amendments follow: Colorado (56-44 percent), Idaho (63-37), South
Carolina (78-22), South Dakota (52-48), Tennessee (80-20), Virginia (57-43) and Wisconsin (59-41).
Published by Keener Communications Group, November 2006
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