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Ruling makes Ariz. 8th state to vote on marriage amendment

PHOENIX (BP)–The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Aug. 31 that a proposed constitutional marriage amendment can appear on the November ballot, rejecting arguments by amendment opponents that the initiative violates the state constitution.

Arizona is the eighth state officially to place a marriage amendment on the fall ballot, joining Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Colorado’s amendment qualified in mid-August for the ballot when its secretary of state said supporters had gathered more than enough signatures.

The Arizona amendment also was placed on the amendment via a signature drive, although opponents filed suit in July, arguing that the proposal violates the state constitutional ban on amendments covering more than one subject. The amendment would ban both “gay marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions.

But the Arizona Supreme Court, in a two-sentence order signed by Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor, affirmed an Aug. 10 decision of a lower court judge, who also had upheld the amendment as constitutional. The high court — handing down a quick decision with the election just two months away — said it would “issue a written decision in due course.”

The amendment is known as Proposition 107.

“The Arizona Supreme Court rightly understood that this amendment is a clear, straightforward proposition with one purpose: protecting marriage,” Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said in a statement. ADF and an attorney for the Center for Arizona Policy represented Protect Marriage Arizona, the group that collected the signatures.

“Those seeking to redefine marriage unsuccessfully tried to evade the democratic process by misusing a technical provision of the state constitution,” Lavy added. “Arizona voters deserve to have a say in the matter of marriage and will have the opportunity to do so.”

Homosexual activists have used the “single subject” argument in lawsuits in other states but have yet to succeed at the state supreme court level, with high courts in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana earlier rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments.

In his Aug. 10 ruling, Arizona trial court Judge Douglas L. Rayes said the amendment covers one subject, not two.

“The court finds the two clauses of the proposed amendment have but one purpose, the protection of marriage by preventing redefinition and extension of official status to marriage substitutes,” Rayes wrote.

Protect Marriage Arizona collected 307,000 signatures for the amendment — significantly more than the 184,000 required. The same day the Arizona Supreme Court issued its ruling, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer confirmed on her website that the amendment had qualified for the ballot.

Coloradans for Marriage turned in more than 132,000 signatures supporting that state’s proposed amendment, nearly doubling the 67,829 signatures required under law. Colorado’s amendment would ban “gay marriage” but leave the issue of civil unions untouched.

Twenty states have adopted marriage amendments. Assuming at least six of the eight amendments in November pass, then a majority of states will have adopted amendments aimed at protecting the natural definition of marriage. A loss in any of the states, though, would be significant: An amendment has yet to fail at the ballot.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust