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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Hurdle cleared: Ohio Senate passes ban

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Ohio Senate passed a wide-sweeping ban on same-sex “marriage” Jan. 22, meaning that the state soon could become the 38th state — a significant number — with a defense of marriage act.

Before becoming law it must first pass the Ohio House — which already has passed a similar version — before going to Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who has indicated he would sign it upon legal review.

Ohio’s action has national implications for two reasons.

First, its defense of marriage act is more far-reaching than those of most states. It bars the recognition of same-sex “marriage” but also bars the recognition of Vermont-type civil unions as well as the extension of marriage benefits to the state’s same-sex employees.

But second — and perhaps more importantly — it means that more than three-fourths of the states soon may have some sort of protection against same-sex “marriage.” A federal marriage amendment would require the ratification from three-fourths of the states. Before reaching the states, though, an amendment would require passage by two-thirds of the U.S. House and Senate.

The Ohio Senate approved the bill by a vote of 18-15.

The bill states that marriage “may only be entered into by one man and one woman” but goes further by saying that such contracts are “against the strong public policy of this state.”

It also states that the “recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits” of marriage to same-sex couples is illegal. Thus, partners of homosexual state employees would be ineligible for insurance benefits.

Ohio state Sen. Jay Hottinger, a Republican, said the bill is necessary.

“This is solely and clearly clarifying and protecting the definition of marriage between one man and one woman,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Nebraska has a constitutional amendment that has similar language. In addition to banning same-sex “marriage,” Nebraska’s amendment states: “The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”

Lambda Legal and the Nebraska chapter of the ACLU have filed suit in federal court seeking to strike down Nebraska’s amendment as federally unconstitutional.

In November the highest court in Massachusetts ruled that same-sex couples could not be denied marriage licenses under the state constitution. It stayed its ruling for 180 days, which means that same-sex couples could be receiving licenses by mid-May.

Massachusetts had no form of protection against same-sex “marriage.”

CONFUSED OVER DOMA — Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a Democrat presidential candidate, was asked during a New Hampshire debate Jan. 22 his thoughts on the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Specifically, he was asked if he agreed with Sen. John Kerry, who voted against DOMA in 1996.

“I think he was right,” Edwards said. “I think he was right because what happened with the Defense of Marriage Act is it took away the power of states, like Vermont, to be able to do what they chose to do about civil unions, about these kinds of marriage issues. … I think these are decisions that the states should have the power to make.”

But the Defense of Marriage Act did just the opposite of what Edwards said — it protected individual states from being forced to recognize another state’s same-sex “marriage” law. The Los Angeles Times said that Edwards “flubbed” the question.

Edwards also was asked about comments by Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who said a marriage amendment would introduce “discrimination” into the Constitution.

“[T]he chairman of your party has accused the president of the United States of bigotry, and I would just like to know if you agree that bigotry is in play here?” panelist Brit Hume asked Edwards.

“It’s not the word I’d use,” Edwards responded, “but I think the president is dead wrong, dead wrong on this issue.”

MASS. DEMS. DIVIDED — The Massachusetts Democratic State Committee is set to vote on a resolution supporting the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” The Boston Herald reported. The vote is scheduled Jan. 29.

More than 30 committee members have signed onto the resolution, the newspaper said.

During a rally in early January, Democratic state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios pointed to state Democratic Party chairman Philip W. Johnston and said, “Discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in his party.”

That statement, as reported by The Boston Globe, drew cheers, but other Democrats who weren’t at the rally weren’t so happy.

House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini oppose same-sex “marriage,” the newspaper said.

LOG CABINS LEAVING? — The Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual activist group of GOP voters, may not support President Bush this fall.

“We will not stand with anyone who is willing to write discrimination into the Constitution,” Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the group, said in The New York Times Jan. 22.

His comments came after Bush indicated he would be willing to support a constitutional amendment protecting the traditional definition of marriage.

But Guerriero’s position is not yet the official one. A statement on the organization’s website has issued a clarification to the story. It reads: “While we are seriously concerned with the content and tone of the President’s State of the Union speech, Log Cabin has not decided to endorse or not endorse President Bush in 2004.”

GEORGIA TIGHTENING LAW? — Georgia state Sen. Bill Stephens has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex “marriage,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. If passed by the state’s General Assembly it could go before voters in November.

Georgia has a law against same-sex “marriage,” although an amendment is considered to be a greater protection against court rulings.

“In other states, there have been efforts by activist judges to redefine marriage by court order without regard to what legislators have written into law,” Stephens, the majority leader, said, according to the newspaper. “Making the definition of marriage a part of Georgia’s constitution means that will not happen in Georgia.”

DO IT, OR QUIT — Marriage commissioners in the Canadian province of British Columbia have been told to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies or resign by March 31, according to The Province newspaper.

Marriage commissioners perform civil marriages, similar to what justices of the peace do in America.

Same-sex “marriage” is legal in two provinces — British Columbia and Ontario.

Conservative MP Paul Forseth criticized the decision and suggested that marriage commissioners be divided into two groups: those who will perform same-sex ceremonies and those who won’t.

For more information on the battle over same-sex “marriage,” visit BP’s story collection at:

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  • Michael Foust