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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Amendment in Ohio moves closer to ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio. (BP)–A constitutional marriage amendment in Ohio is one step closer to the ballot after being approved by the state ballot board.

The Ohio Ballot Board rejected calls by opponents to change the amendment’s language, voting 5-0 Aug. 17 to accept the amendment as written. The amendment would ban both same-sex “marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions.

The next step in the process involves having petition signatures certified. The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage submitted 391,000 signatures to place the amendment on the November ballot, and a minimum of 323,000 of those must be certified. If the group falls short of the requirement, it would have 10 days to submit replacement signatures.

But the amendment faces perhaps an even taller hurdle in court, where amendment opponents promise to mount a legal challenge.

The first sentence of the amendment would ban same-sex “marriage.” The controversy, though, rests on the amendment’s second sentence, which states: “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

Amendment opponents contend it could jeopardize domestic partner benefits at four state universities, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Opponents offered an alternative, but it had no support on the ballot board.

Board member Jay Hottinger criticized the alternative.

“While I agree the initial ballot language that’s before us could be more clearly written, unfortunately I don’t think your ballot language does that,” he told opponents, according to The Enquirer. “In fact, I think it becomes about as clear as mud.”

According to the newspaper, the alternative amendment read: “To prohibit the state (the general assembly, state executive offices and departments, state universities and colleges, the state’s courts, and all other state institutions) and its political subdivisions (counties, cities, villages, townships, school districts, and all special purpose districts) from creating or recognizing a legal status (rights, protections, benefits, duties or obligations) of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage; to provide that the state and its political subdivisions may only recognize as valid marriage a union between one man and one woman.”

Including Missouri — which already passed an amendment — as many as 13 states could vote on marriage amendments this year.

Amendments to state constitutions tie the hands of state courts, preventing the type of ruling Massachusetts experienced. But they can be overturned in federal court, where Nebraska’s is being challenged. For that reason, pro-family groups support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

RULING APPEALED — Homosexual couples who lost in the first round in their attempt to overturn a 1913 Massachusetts marriage law will appeal to the Massachusetts appeals court, the Associated Press reported.

On Aug. 18 a lower court judge refused to stop enforcement of the law, which prevents couples from acquiring a marriage license if it would not be recognized in their home state. Because Massachusetts is the only state with legalized same-sex “marriage,” out-of-state same-sex couples are banned from obtaining a license.

The ruling likely will end up before the state high court — the same one that issued its pro-same-sex “marriage” last November. In that 4-3 decision, one of the majority justices, John Greaney, issued a concurring opinion in which he pointed to the 1913 law. Because of the law, he said in his opinion, out-of-state same-sex couples are “precluded” from acquiring licenses. He was rebutting one of the arguments made by same-sex “marriage” opponents — that the licenses would be used to legalize homosexual “marriage” in other states.

Greaney’s vote on the constitutionality of the 1913 law could be critical. If he were to vote with the three minority justices, the law would stand.

LA. GOV. SUPPORTIVE — Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, says she supports passing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” With her announcement, Blanco, a Roman Catholic, breaks with more liberal members of her party. In many states, Democrats have opposed efforts to place marriage amendments before voters.

“[The amendment] is in keeping with the mores of Louisiana and my personal belief that marriage should be protected,” she said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I don’t think there is a problem voting to underscore that.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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  • Michael Foust