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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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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