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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Groups in Colo. & Pa. push marriage amendments; Canadian Conservatives lead on eve of election

DENVER (BP)–Colorado and Pennsylvania, two states that until now have been on the sidelines in the “gay marriage” debate, could be voting on marriage amendments in the next two years if conservatives in those states are successful.

Colorado’s amendment would require the gathering of more than 68,000 signatures and would be placed on the ballot this November, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported. Pennsylvania’s would need the support of the legislature in two consecutive sessions in order to go on the ballot in 2007, according to The Washington Times.

Already, four states — Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — are set to vote on marriage amendments this year, and several others likely will follow.

All total, 19 states have adopted the amendments. An amendment has never failed at the ballot.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure marriage is protected in Colorado,” Jim Pfaff of Focus on the Family told The Gazette. “It’s our goal to make sure that marriage is defined as a union of one man and one woman.”

Conservatives there have formed a coalition named Coloradans for Marriage. Although the group has yet to finalize the amendment’s language, Jon Paul of Coloradans for Marriage said the coalition is leaning against including a ban on same-sex domestic partnerships, which grant homosexuals some of the benefits of marriage without using the word “marriage.” Such a narrowly tailored amendment would possibly make it easier to pass.

But Coloradans may be voting this fall on two issues related to homosexual relationships. Democrats in the state legislature are hoping to place a referendum on the ballot that would legalize same-sex domestic partnerships, The Gazette reported. That would put conservatives in the position of campaigning for one initiative and against another.

In Pennsylvania, around 90 representatives in the 203-seat state House have signed on as co-sponsors of the marriage amendment, state Rep. Scott Boyd, a Republican, told The Washington Times. The earliest the amendment could appear on the ballot is 2007, a pro-family leader in Pennsylvania told The Times.

Marriage amendments on the state level seal the definition of marriage within the state constitution, preventing state courts from overturning laws and legalizing “gay marriage.” In 2003, Massachusetts, which has no marriage amendment, watched as its highest court issued a controversial ruling legalizing “gay marriage.”

VA. AMENDMENT ON TRACK — A Virginia Senate committee passed a marriage amendment by an 11-3 vote Jan. 17, sending it to the full Senate, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

But because the committee changed the language of the bill explaining the amendment’s intent, it must go back to the House for another vote; the House had passed it several days earlier. The committee did not change the language of the amendment itself.

If approved by both chambers, the amendment would be placed on the ballot this November.

CANADIAN CONSERVATIVES LOOKING GOOD — Conservatives in Canada lead in every national poll and appear on the verge of capturing at least a plurality of seats in Parliament during the national election Jan. 23. If that happens, Conservative leader Stephen Harper would become prime minister.

In a Jan. 20 Strategic Counsel poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail, Conservatives led the governing Liberals 37 percent to 28 percent. The other parties had less than 20 percent.

Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin has gone on the attack in recent days, accusing Harper of having ties with American conservatives and of wanting to turn Canada into a “right-wing” country. But so far, the attacks haven’t worked.

If his party takes power, Harper has promised a vote in Parliament to repeal the legalization of “gay marriage.” Such a vote, though, would face an uphill climb in the Liberal-controlled Senate. Senators are unelected and serve until the age of 75, although Harper wants to turn the Senate into an elected body.

Nevertheless, a Conservative government would be a big victory for pro-family groups, who watched the Liberals last year successfully push to redefine marriage. The Liberals also want to decriminalize marijuana.

Parliament has 308 seats, which means any party has to win 155 seats to form a majority government.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust