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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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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