Michigan 1 of 11 States to Ban Gay Marriage

Wed. November 3, 2004 12:00 AM by 365gay.com

GLBT Civil Rights Threatened

Washington, D.C. - In a major setback for same-sex marriage rights voters in 11 states where constitutional amendments were on the ballot passed the measure.

The proposed amendments passed easily in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio and Utah. Only in Oregon was there a contest, but in the end, the measure won there too.

In Kentucky and Georgia, the bans passed by a 3 - 1 margin. It was 3-to-2 in Ohio, and 6-to-1 in Mississippi.

The amendments in three states, Oregon, Mississippi and Montana, bar same-sex marriage. Those in the other 8 states also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. But, the Ohio amendment is considered the most draconian preventing any benefits to be granted to same-sex partners. That say opponents could prevent companies from giving benefits to the same-sex partners of their gay and lesbian employees.

Shortly after the amendment was passed in Georgia and Mississippi gay rights groups announced they would challenge the provision in court.

Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a ruling saying that the amendment's legality could not be fully considered until after the election.

"We've maintained from the very beginning of this case that the amendment was flawed when it was created, was flawed in the voting booth and remains unconstitutional now," said Johnny Stephenson, partner at the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird.

"We are going to file this lawsuit at the earliest moment possible -- after the Secretary of State certifies the results of the election.

The Oregon ban puts into question a legal challenge to an existing state law that prevents gay marriage. Last March officials in Multnomah County challenged the law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. By April 20, when a judge called a temporary halt, 3,022 licenses had been issued. The case is scheduled to be heard by the state Supreme Court next month.

"These amendments don't protect anyone," the Human Rights Campaign's Steven Fisher Told 365Gay.com, referring to the argument made by conservatives that traditional marriage needed to be protected. "The amendments discriminate against gay families. It shows we have more education to do," Fisher said.

by Doreen Brandt
365Gay.com Washington Bureau
©365Gay.com 2004

This article originally appeared on 365gay.com. Republished with permission.