Though the federal marriage amendment failed to pass either
house of Congress, voters in nearly a dozen states overwhelmingly
passed state constitutional amendments banning marriage for
Mississippi voters approved the ban by the largest margin, 86
percent. Oregon had the closest of the votes, with 54 percent
The approved amendments in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky,
Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah also prevent any
form of partner recognition. Montana also approved a state
Michigan had the next closest vote, with 59 percent of voters
approving the ban.
“The results underscore why we have a Bill of Rights
—because it is always wrong to put basic rights up to a
popular vote,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“Even today, 213 years after the Bill of Rights was
ratified, it is doubtful Americans could win our freedoms of
speech, press and religion at the ballot box,” Foreman
Groups opposing same-sex marriage were delighted with the
“It shows that people want to decide the definition of
marriage rather than have judges decide it,” said Peter
Sprigg, of the Family Research Council. “But there is still
the very serious danger that this will be a federal court
But Foreman said, “This is only one round, and when the
fight is over, complete equality for gay people will be the only
side left standing.”
Thirty-nine states already have laws similar to the federal
Defense of Marriage Act, a handful of which also ban other forms of
The push for constitutional amendments began after the
Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state law was
unconstitutional because it violated equal rights protections.
Over the summer Wisconsin and Louisiana also passed state
constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, by 71 percent
and 78 percent respectively.
Within a week, a Louisiana judge struck down the amendment,
saying that it violated state law by addressing two issues in one
amendment, limiting marriage as well as prohibiting domestic
partnership and civil union-type recognition.
Alaska, Nebraska, Nevada, and Hawaii already have constitutional
amendments banning same-sex marriage.
In Massachusetts, the only state where gay and lesbian couples
can legally marry, residents will vote on a constitutional
amendment in 2006, and several other states are slated to place the
issue before voters between now and 2007.