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Issue of same-sex marriage on future statewide ballots gaining steam across the country

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November 30, 2012

By Kristen Horn

The topic of marriage on the ballot has increased activity for efforts, especially with four measures on the November 6, 2012 elections resulting in pro same-sex marriage outcomes. With Maine, Maryland and Washington showing support for legalized same-sex marriage and Minnesota shooting down a same-sex marriage ban, attention is being shown for the issue among other states as well as the United States Supreme Court. Advocates and opponents alike in states like Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Oregon are preparing to possibly face this issue on future ballots.

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona’s momentum for same-sex marriage to appear back on the ballot for the first time since marriage was defined between a man and a woman in the 2008 election has begun with Arizonan Tanner Pritts. Pritts and the pro same-sex marriage group he formed, Arizona Advocates for Marriage Equality, have submitted paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State to begin the processes for campaigning in the 2014 elections.[1].

If approved, the paperwork submitted by Pritts will allow for fund raising and obtaining money for campaigning.

In addition to campaign funds, more than a quarter million valid signatures will be needed by the end of July 2014 for the issue to be present on the ballot.[1]

No official word was reported as to what formal opposition the initiative effort was facing.

Arkansas

Arkansas LGBT groups such as Arkansans for Equality and The Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality have also gained momentum with same-sex marriage issues, hoping to place proposed initiatives on future ballots in 2014 and 2016. These groups are aiming to put a measure on the ballot for 2014 to repeal the marriage amendment in 2004 that defined marriage between a man and woman as well as a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage.[2].

Arkansas

Both groups have begun the steps to get the initiative on the future ballots. Trey Weir, an organizer with the advocacy groups, stated, "We've got a lawyer so far. We've met with him on last Wednesday (November 21, 2012) to discuss where we go from here and we should have some language for the ballot to submit to the Attorney General pretty soon."[2]

In addition, Arkansas city council in Eureka Spring voted to endorse same-sex marriage initiatives. Eureka Spring is the first city in Arkansas to approve initiative endorsement for same-sex marriage[3].

Opposition to the initiatives making the future ballots include Executive Director of the Arkansas Family Council, Jerry Cox. In a statement, Cox referenced back to the support of Proposal 3 in the 2004 election, believing that citizens have already voted on the initiative and that the amendment will stand.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Hannig and state representative Gregory Harris believe support for same-sex marriage has grown since the civil union laws passed two years ago and since the recent elections resulted with four states supporting same-sex ballot issues.

Legislators and same-sex marriage advocates in Illinois feel that the results in these states have shown a change in attitude that could affect the outcome of defining marriage in Illinois.[4]

In addition to the legislative push for the same-sex marriage issue, State Senator Bill Haine, who opposed the previous civil union laws, is currently pushing for a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman. This constitutional amendment needs to be on the ballot for a statewide vote to pass and go into effect, and could also change the push for legislative action regarding same-sex marriage.

Oregon

Oregon

Oregon House Majority Leader Tina Kotek stated her support for same-sex marriage in the state of Oregon, claiming, “There are no shortcuts in this debate, a grass-roots, citizen-led effort is the way to go...I'm very excited what (other states) have done for marriage equality."[5] With this attention, same-sex marriage advocacy groups in Oregon are working to put an initiative measure on future ballots.

Groups, such as Southern Oregon Pride and Basic Rights Oregon, are working to obtain signatures and complete the necessary steps for the path to the ballot, and recognize that it must be a voter made decision. Executive director of Basic Oregon Rights, Jeana Frazzini noted, "It's a decision the voters will make and we want to build toward 2014, but we don't rule out asking the Legislature to refer it."[5]

With the growing attention by advocacy groups and legislators, Oregon also holds opposition groups to same-sex marriage initiatives like Oregon Family Council. The council led the charge in 2004 for the measure that defined marriage between a man and a woman[6].

For a same-sex initiative to pass in Oregon, a statewide vote would need to occur to amend the Oregon State Constitution.

Supreme Court action

With the gathered momentum in the states for same-sex marriage initiatives following the 2012 elections, the United States Supreme Court will have to make a decision regarding the California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state.[7]

California’s Proposition 8 made its way to the Supreme Court by being rejected in lower court systems. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeals, a decision will be made by late June. Additionally, the Supreme Court may decide to withhold a decision until a decision has been made regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act[8].

With this proposition on the plate, the decisions to be by the Supreme Court made will impact the momentum of same-sex marriage initiatives across the country.

See also

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References