AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–The Texas Senate passed a constitutional marriage amendment May 21, making it the fifth state this year to send such an amendment to voters.
The amendment, which would protect the traditional definition of marriage by banning both “gay marriage” and civil unions, will go to voters Nov. 8. Four other states — Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — will vote on marriage amendments next year.
Eighteen states have passed marriage amendments, although one of them — Nebraska’s — was struck down recently in federal court.
The amendment passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 21-8. It previously had passed the House.
“I believe we should protect the institution of marriage. We should hold that up higher than any other relationship,” state Sen. Todd Staples, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said during floor debate, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The bill passed the Senate with the support of 18 Republicans and three Democrats.
Opponents said that future generations would come to view the amendment as discriminatory. But Staples, as quoted in the Austin American-Statesman, responded: “This is not discrimination…. I cannot imagine the day we will stand up and say we are not glad we protected the institution of marriage.”
The Texas amendment — along with those in other states — is intended to prevent state courts from legalizing “gay marriage.” Last year alone, 13 states passed similar amendments. Supporters of the amendments point to Massachusetts, where that state’s high court issued a ruling legalizing “gay marriage.” Massachusetts has no marriage amendment.
The amendments have proven popular, passing by an average margin of 70-30 percent. An amendment has yet to fail at the ballot.
But the amendments are vulnerable in federal court. On May 12 a federal judge overturned Nebraska’s marriage amendment, ruling it was discriminatory and made homosexuals “unequal.”
Because of the vulnerability of state amendments, social conservatives are promoting a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The marriage amendment in the U.S. Senate is Senate Joint Resolution 1 and in the House is House Joint Resolution 39. Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage