Alaska Marriage Amendment, Measure 2 (1998)

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The Alaska Marriage Amendment, also known as Measure 2, was on the November 3, 1998 ballot in Alaska as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure defined marriage as "only between one man and one woman."[1] The amendment was overturned in 2014.


On October 12, 2014, a federal judge struck down the ban on same-sex marriage. The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska ruled the ban unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. U.S District Judge Timothy M. Burgess said:[2]

Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws are a prime example of how 'the varying treatment of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that we can only conclude that the legislature’s actions were irrational.'


Election results

Alaska Measure 2 (1998)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Hamby v. Parnell 
Yes 152,965 68.11%

Election results via: Alaska Department of Elections

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

This measure would amend the Declaration of Rights section of the Alaska Constitution to limit marriage. The amendment would say that to be valid, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman.

Yes [ ]
No [ ][3]

Constitutional changes

The approval of Measure 2 added Section 25 of Article I to the Alaska Constitution:[1]

Section 25. Marriage. To be valid or recognized in this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman.[3]



State Senator Loren Leman (R) wrote the argument in support of the measure found in the official voter guide:

Do you believe that marriage requires both a man and a woman? Is this a reasonable question that you should be allowed to decide? If so, vote "YES" on the Marriage Amendment.

Ballot Measure No. 2 reaffirms and protects existing Alaska law that states that marriage is a union of "one man and one woman." This is also the law in every state in the U.S. and in all other countries.

More than two-thirds of Alaskans agree with this definition of marriage. So do most of your elected representatives. An overwhelming majority of the U.S. Congress, including all three members of Alaska's delegation, has voted to preserve marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

But a small group of lawyers and liberal activists wants to change all that. In 1995, two Anchorage men who describe themselves as homosexuals sued the State of Alaska because they were not granted a marriage license. Last February, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski issued a preliminary ruling in their case. Judge Michalski ruled that Alaska's "one man, one woman" marriage law may be unconstitutional because it supposedly violates the "right to privacy." No judge in America has ever before issued such a bizarre ruling.

The state Attorney General then asked the Alaska Supreme Court to reconsider Judge Michalski's ruling, and they refused to do so. So here we are. The Legislature had no choice but to place this subject before you in the form of a Marriage Amendment.

Just remember: the people of Alaska did not pick this fight. Ballot Measure No. 2 does not "target" anybody or "deny" anybody their rights. You'll hear that, but don't believe it. All Alaskans are equal before the law. But that's not what this debate is about. This debate is about who should define marriage: the people, or a handful of non-elected judges.

The activists who want to change the meaning of marriage certainly have a right to make their case. They made it before the Legislature. They lost. But instead of waiting to fight another day, they filed two unsuccessful lawsuits trying to stop this amendment from even appearing on the ballot. They don't trust the voters of Alaska.

Most Alaskans believe that marriage is a natural institution that must be preserved. Marriage is recognized by Alaska civil law, but it was not created or "invented" by Alaska law. And it shouldn't be arbitrarily redefined by non-elected judges.

We urge you to vote "YES" on Ballot Measure No. 2 and protect the institution of marriage in our society.[3]

—Sen. Loren Leman[1]



Wilda Hudson, President of the League of Women Voters of Alaska, wrote the argument in opposition of the measure found in the official voter guide:

Three good reasons exist for Alaskans to VOTE NO on this proposed Constitutional amendment.

It would amend Alaska's Declaration of Rights and begin to tear away at citizens' rights, making exception to the liberties, including the right of privacy, protected by our Alaska Constitution.

It would deny some groups of Alaskan citizens rights enjoyed by other citizens.

It would undercut a recent Superior Court finding which maintains the basic privacy rights of Alaska citizens.

1. We Should Not Tamper With The Alaska Constitution, Article I, Declaration Of Rights, By Proposing To Limit Individual Liberties And Rights. Alaska's Constitution is one of the newest state constitutions and is considered a model document throughout the nation. The League of Women Voters of Alaska is extremely concerned about ballot measures, such as this one, which propose amendments to Alaska's Constitution that limit citizens' individual liberties and right to privacy.

Protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. This is one of the most profound reasons why constitutions exist.

Ballot Measure 2 would, for the first time, write discrimination into our state Constitution. Voting NO on this measure protects the integrity of our Declaration of Rights in Alaska's Constitution against discriminatory amendments such as this. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the State to recognize marriage between individuals of the same sex. The Constitution, as it stands now, treats all persons equally.

2. We Must Protect The Rights Of All Alaska's Citizens. The League of Women Voters of Alaska believes this proposed Constitutional amendment is in conflict with ARTICLE I, Sections 1, 2 and 22 of the Constitution as currently written. The Alaska Constitution, ARTICLE I, Declaration of Rights, provides:

Section 1. Inherent Rights. (reads in part) This constitution is dedicated to the principles that . . . all persons are entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law . . .

Section 3. Civil Rights. No person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, sex or national origin.

Section 22. Right to Privacy. The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed.

This ballot measure would weaken or abridge these critical sections of the Alaska Constitution. A NO vote would ensure that our liberties and right to privacy are protected.

3. The Checks And Balances Of Our Three-Part System Of Government (Legislative, Executive, Judicial) Must Be Preserved. A recent attempt to restrict marriage to "one man and one woman" has been found unconstitutional by a Superior Court ruling under Alaska's right to privacy law. The judicial process should be respected and the balance of powers should be maintained.

Vote No On Ballot Measure No. 2. The League of Women Voters promotes an open governmental system that protects individual liberties and right to privacy as established by Alaska's Constitution. Join us in protecting these rights for ALL citizens by voting NO on Ballot Measure No. 2.[3]

—Wilda Hudson[1]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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