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Walker Urges Voters to Pass Amendment 3

Walker Urges Voters to Pass Amendment 3

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Despite previously expressing legal concern over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Gov. Olene Walker is now urging Utah voters to support it, a newspaper has reported.

Walker warned on Thursday that it would be "most unfortunate" if Utah voters didn't support Amendment 3, the Deseret Morning News reported in Friday editions.

Walker had said in August that she hadn't made up her mind about Amendment 3, which will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, and raised questions then about the impact of the proposal's second part, which would forbid granting "the same or substantially equivalent legal effect" as marriage to other relationships.

"There probably will be a lot of legal issues," she had previously said.

But Thursday, at a news conference called to announce her opposition to another ballot issue, Walker said she supports the amendment despite those misgivings.

"My choice would have been to just have one line. That isn't an option," she said, referring to the first part of the amendment, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

That definition is already spelled out in state law.

Walker downplayed the potential cost to the state of a legal battle over the amendment. A similar amendment in Nebraska faces a court challenge, and another passed Sept. 18 in Louisiana has already been thrown out by a district judge.

Opponents in Utah are also expected to take the state to court over the potential effect the amendment could have on the legal rights of same-sex partners.

Two months ago, the governor was much less certain about the amendment. She said she still needed to decide whether her belief in the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman outweighed the "complex issues" raised by the second part of the amendment.

All three candidates for attorney general, including incumbent Republican Mark Shurtleff, oppose the amendment because of that provision, which they contend would bar the Legislature from ever extending even the most basic partnership rights to an unmarried couple, such as hospital visitations and inheritance.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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