News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2006


Amendment One adds nothing to state law

A proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages adds nothing to state law. Its only function is to reiterate what has long been clear, that Alabamians think society is best served through traditional families.

Polls and billboards are appropriate tools for broadcasting our support of traditional families. An irrelevant constitutional amendment accomplishes nothing but increasing the clutter of an already cluttered constitution.

Amendment One adds nothing to state law, which already bans same-sex marriages.

There are times when a state constitutional amendment is preferable to a statute, but this is not one of them.

The existing statute's most obvious vulnerability is to the U.S. Supreme Court. In past decisions the court has deferred to states on the issue. If it were to reverse itself and declare as invalid prohibitions on same-sex marriages, its ruling would trump both statutes and constitutional amendments. Amendment One thus provides no additional protection from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Proponents of Amendment One have made much of a lower court's ruling in Georgia that threatens to prevent enforcement of that state's same-sex marriage ban. The ruling did not involve the substance of the Georgia provision, however. It struck down the ban because it violated Georgia's single-subject rule for ballots.

Any in-state challenge to the existing same-sex marriage prohibition would have to come from the state Supreme Court. The court has shown no inclination to brave the popular backlash that such a ruling would create; to the contrary, most justices have voiced their support for the law that is already on the books.

We also worry that the motivations behind placing the proposed amendment on this particular ballot are less than pure. The ballot issue will no doubt draw to the polls many voters inclined to cast votes in favor of gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore and chief justice candidate Tom Parker.

Political ploy or not, Amendment One adds nothing to existing state law. It should be voted down.

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