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ELECTION 06: Turnout by Christians critical, leaders say

Editor’s note: This is the eighth and final in a series of special preview stories about the 2006 Election.

Today: A preview of initiatives and key votes nationwide.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The success of eight proposed constitutional marriage amendments and a host of other pro-family initiatives Tuesday depends on whether Christians turn out to vote, conservative leaders say.

While most eyes nationwide will be on the battle over Congress, conservative activists will be watching several states where such issues as “gay marriage,” abortion, gambling, therapeutic cloning and marijuana legalization are at stake.

In Tennessee, where a marriage amendment is on the ballot, David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, told Baptist Press, “If pastors and churches are not talking about it, we will not have reached as many people as we need to reach [for it to pass].

“Active participation by the Christian community is vital to get the word out about the amendment,” Fowler said.

The same is true in Virginia, where a marriage amendment has faced stiff opposition in the media, particularly in newspaper editorials. Polls show the race tight, with support hovering around 50 percent.

“There’s no question that the news media has been opposed to the marriage amendment and have been carrying the banner for the opposition,” said Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation of Virginia. “We expected that, and that has definitely come into play.”

Christians, Cobb said, “have to be mobilized and make sure that they come to the polls.”

Tennessee’s amendment could get a majority votes and still fail. A quirk in the state constitution requires amendments to receive not only a majority of votes, but also a majority of the votes cast in the governor’s race. For example, if 1 million people vote in the governor’s race, then the amendment, to pass, must receive at least 500,001 “yes” votes.

Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin also are considering marriage amendments. Homosexual activists believe they have a legitimate chance to defeat one of them. Such a loss would be historic: In 20 appearances on the ballot, a marriage amendment has never lost.

Among other key initiatives/races:

— Coloradans will vote on domestic partnerships, which grant same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage.

— Missouri citizens will consider a constitutional amendment that would protect both therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Although supporters say the amendment bans cloning, the 2,000-word text of the amendment says it protects “somatic cell nuclear transfer” — the scientific name for cloning.

— California and Oregon voters will consider initiatives to require teenagers to notify their parents before obtaining an abortion. Both proposals allow judicial bypasses.

— South Dakotans will decide whether to keep a law that bans abortion except in cases to save the mother’s life. The law will face a lawsuit if it survives.

— Colorado and Nevada citizens will consider proposals to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. South Dakotans will vote on whether to legalize medicinal marijuana.

— Ohio, Rhode Island and Nebraska voters will consider initiatives that would expand gambling in the state. Ohio’s initiative would authorize 31,500 slots at various locations, including a Toledo racetrack. Rhode Island’s proposal would put a casino in West Warwick. Nebraska’s would allow video keno in any Nebraska county. In addition, South Dakotans will consider a proposal that would repeal video lottery statewide.

— Wisconsin citizens will vote on a non-binding initiative asking the state legislature to reinstate the death penalty, which is illegal in the state. DNA evidence would be necessary.

— Colorado and South Dakota citizens will vote on initiatives that would limit the power of judges. Colorado’s would limit state Supreme Court and appellate judges to 10 years on the bench. South Dakota’s would remove immunity from judges, allowing citizens to sue them.

— Boise, Idaho, voters will decide whether to place a Ten Commandments monument back in a city park. It was removed in 2004.

— California and Washington state conservatives will decide whether to keep two justices who could impact future “gay marriage” cases. In California, conservatives are urging voters not to keep state Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard, who in 2004 voted with the minority to not invalidate “gay marriage” licenses from San Francisco. In Washington, state Sen. Stephen Johnson is trying to unseat Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens, who voted this summer with the minority to legalize “gay marriage.”

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust