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Wis. legislature sends marriage amendment to voters

MADISON, Wis. (BP)–Wisconsin’s legislature Feb. 28 sent a proposed constitutional marriage amendment to voters, making the state the sixth to place the issue of marriage on the ballot for 2006.

Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee also are scheduled to vote on marriage amendments this year, and other states — including Virginia — are expected to follow.

Wisconsin’s amendment passed the state Assembly 62-31, nearly three months after it passed the Senate, 19-14. As required by state law, the amendment had already passed both chambers in the previous session.

Wisconsin voters will consider the issue in November. The amendment would prevent state courts from legalizing “gay marriage.”

“Our existing state statutes are not sufficient to clearly define marriage and to prevent courts or other local government officials from trying to redefine it over the will of the people,” Julaine K. Appling, executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, told Baptist Press. “The vote in the assembly gets this to the people of Wisconsin to have their final say on what the definition of marriage will be. It gives it the very best legal protection currently available.”

Massachusetts’ highest court issued a decision in 2003 legalizing “gay marriage.” The supreme courts of Washington state and New Jersey also are considering “gay marriage” cases. None of those states have a constitutional marriage amendment.

All total, 19 states have adopted marriage amendments. Eleven of those were passed on Election Day 2004. But Appling believes homosexual activists are better organized than they were two years ago. Because the amendment process is so lengthy in Wisconsin — the legislature first passed the amendment in early 2004 — opponents have had more than two years to organize.

“Here in Wisconsin, they have brought in Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign and other major national groups,” Appling said. “They’ve really coalesced. I think the issue for us is, ‘Do we care as much as they do about preserving God’s plan for marriage?’”

The amendment, which also would ban Vermont-style civil unions, states: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust