Peter Sprigg

How many states have banned gay ‘marriage’?

Peter Sprigg
By Peter Sprigg
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May 24, 2012 (FRC.org) - In the wake of the passage of North Carolina’s marriage amendment on May 8, by an overwhelming 61%-39% margin, there have been a number of media reports on the state of marriage law in the fifty states, and how many states have taken action to prevent the issuances of marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. The numbers reported in these stories have sometimes been contradictory, and this may lead to some confusion. With this article, I will try to clarify where the states now stand on this issue.

First, let’s look at states that have amended their state constitutions in such a way as to prevent the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in those states. Including North Carolina, there are thirty (30) states in which the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been directly enshrined in the state’s constitution in explicit language. In these thirty states, neither the legislature nor the state courts have the power to legalize same-sex “marriage” – at least, not unless and until the people of those states vote to amend their constitutions again to repeal the current provisions.

Opponents of the marriage amendment in North Carolina made much of the fact that the amendment on the ballot included not only language defining the word “marriage,” but also additional language intended to make certain that the state would not create some sort of quasi-marital status under another name (such as “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships”) to give some or all of the traditional legal “benefits” of “marriage” to same-sex couples.

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This provision was described by opponents as though it was a radical and extreme provision unique to the North Carolina amendment. The truth is exactly the opposite–in fact, a clear majority of the states which have adopted amendments to define marriage (twenty of the thirty) have used what is sometimes called a “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment to prevent civil unions and domestic partnerships, as well as same-sex “marriage.” The North Carolina amendment represented the norm, not the exception.

The other ten states have simpler amendments sometimes described as “single-sentence,” or “definition-only” amendments, which address only the definition of civil marriage itself. (The pro-homosexual lobby “Human Rights Campaign,” which usually tracks state laws very closely, has inaccurately omitted Kansas from the list of states with “strong” marriage amendments.)

Some opponents of the North Carolina amendment argued that it could prevent even private companies from offering “domestic partner benefits,” or prevent same-sex partners from even entering into private contracts with one another. Similar charges have been made about two of the “strong” amendments already adopted, those in Michigan and Virginia. These charges are plainly false–the amendments are intended only to bind state and local governments, not private entities (Virginia’s amendment refers explicitly to “this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions”).  North Carolina’s amendment language closely resembles that of Idaho, and added language in the Michigan and Virginia amendments was intended to forestall any effort to evade the amendment’s intent, which was to ensure that same-sex relationships would not be treated as equivalent or comparable to opposite-sex marriages in any way under the law.

Although thirty states have amended their constitutions to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, there are actually thirty-one states that have amended their constitutions in an effort to prevent same-sex “marriage.” The thirty-first (in this analysis) was actually one of the first chronologically. The prospect of legalizing same-sex “marriage” was not taken very seriously until the early 1990’s, when a court in Hawaii gave indications that it might be the first to order legalization of same-sex “marriage.”

The people responded by amending their constitution–but the Hawaii amendment did not actually place a definition of marriage in the text of the constitution. Instead, the Hawaii amendment reserved to the legislature the power to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman (which they did, by statute). So in Hawaii, like the other states with marriage amendments, state courts have no power to change the definition of marriage. However, unlike the other thirty states, Hawaii has left the legislature with the freedom to legalize same-sex “marriage,” if they should choose to do so. (In my writings, I have usually not counted Hawaii’s as a true marriage amendment because it did not fix the definition of marriage in the constitutional text. However, it certainly counted as a victory in the fight to prevent redefinition of marriage.)

That brings us to 31; but you may also have heard pro-family spokesmen declare that after North Carolina, “32 out of 32 states that have voted on the issue have voted to uphold the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” Where do they get 32?

In 2009, Maine’s legislature passed a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage.” However, opponents of the bill were able to place it on the ballot, and before it ever took effect, the voters repealed it in a referendum sometimes referred to as a “people’s veto.” This was another victory for one-man-one-woman marriage, but it did not amend the state’s constitution—it merely removed the statutory language adopted by the legislature. (Because Maine does not have an actual marriage amendment, advocates of same-sex “marriage” there–apparently believing that public opinion has shifted in their favor since 2009–have been pushing for another referendum to restore same-sex “marriage.”)

To further confuse things–while the pro-family claims of a 32-state winning spree at the ballot box are accurate, this does not mean that traditional marriage has won every time marriage has been on the ballot. There is one state, Arizona, which has voted on marriage amendments twice. The first time, in 2006, voters weighed in on a proposed “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment which would have prevented the state from establishing “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” as well as same-sex “marriage.” This amendment was defeated–ironically, because opponents drew attention to its potential impact on opposite-sex couples, not same-sex ones. (Social Security imposes an unfortunate marriage penalty upon widowed recipients of survivor benefits if they choose to marry again. This has provided an incentive for some seniors–a significant population in the popular retirement state of Arizona–to cohabit rather than re-marry, and some states and localities have taken this into account by creating “domestic partnerships” for same-sex couples and opposite-sex seniors.) In 2008, however, voters adopted a revised, one-sentence, definition-of-marriage-only amendment, thus placing Arizona ultimately in the victory column.

There is one additional state-wide referendum that could be counted as a 33rd victory at the polls for the man-woman definition of marriage–even though the word “marriage” did not appear on the ballot. I refer to the 2010 judicial retention election in Iowa, in which three of the state Supreme Court justices who had voted to impose same-sex “marriage” on that state in 2009 were removed from office. This was unprecedented in the history of the state, and few observers doubt that the marriage case was the reason for it.

The 30—or 31—states with some form of “marriage amendment” should not be considered the only ones that have acted to protect the definition of marriage, however. Only six states (plus the District of Columbia) currently grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, so the number of states which define marriage as the union of a man and a woman is currently 44, not just 30.

In two of those states (Washington and Maryland), the legislatures this year voted to legalize same-sex “marriage,” but those laws have not taken effect, and pro-family forces in both states are attempting to place the issue on this November’s ballot in hope of achieving a “people’s veto” like the one that occurred in Maine. Even with Washington and Maryland excluded based on a pending change in their laws, the number of states that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman is 42, not just 30.

We in the pro-family movement do not consider the social institution of marriage to be inherently stronger in states which have defined it as the union of a man and a woman in the constitution than in states which have such a definition by statutory or common law. Marriage is not stronger there–merely safer, in that an amendment has the political and legal effect of making a redefinition of marriage more difficult and thus less likely in that state in the future. Researchers wanting to compare states on the issue of same-sex “marriage” should compare the 42 (or, for the time being, 44) states without it to the six states which have it–rather than comparing the thirty (or 31) states with amendments to the 19 or 20 without them.

So in conclusion, let’s walk through the numbers again:

Number of states in which the state constitution prevents legal recognition of same-sex “marriages,” “civil unions,” or “domestic partnerships”:    20

They are:

Alabama       2006

Arkansas       2004

Florida         2008

Georgia         2004

Idaho           2006

Kansas         2005

Kentucky       2004

Louisiana       2004

Michigan       2004

Nebraska       2000

North Carolina 2012

North Dakota   2004

Ohio           2004

Oklahoma     2004

South Carolina 2006

South Dakota   2006

Texas           2005

Utah           2004

Virginia       2006

Wisconsin       2006

Number of states in which the state constitution defines civil “marriage” as the union of one man and one woman:        30

To those above, add:

Alaska         1998

Arizona         2008

California       2008

Colorado       2006

Mississippi     2004

Missouri       2004

Montana       2004

Nevada         2002

Oregon         2004

Tennessee     2006

Number of states which have amended their state constitutions to prevent legalization of same-sex “marriage”:  31

To the states above, add Hawaii amendment (1998) reserving the definition of marriage to the legislature

Number of states in which voters have upheld the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in a statewide referendum:  32

To the states above, add Maine’s “people’s veto” (2009) of same-sex “marriage” legislation

Number of states where voters have, either explicitly or implicitly, rejected the legalization of same-sex “marriage”:  33

To the states above, add Iowa’s judicial retention election (2010), removing state Supreme Court judges who voted to impose same-sex “marriage”

Number of states where marriage remains the union of a man and a woman under state law:  42

Number of states which currently (May 2012) grant marriage licenses only for unions of one man and one woman:  44

Includes Washington and Maryland, where same-sex “marriage” legislation has been enacted but not yet taken effect.

Reprinted with permission from FRCblog.com

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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