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Marriage Defining Amendment Causing New Controversy

Marriage Defining Amendment Causing New Controversy

Posted - Aug. 10, 2004 at 9:49 p.m.



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Carole Mikita ReportingAn amendment to the Utah constitution defining marriage will be on the ballot November 2nd. The wording of that amendment has caused some conservatives to come out against it, even though proponents say it stands on solid legal ground.

Part 1 defines marriage between a man and a woman. Part 2 would not legally recognize any other union. Proponents say it should stand as written. Utah's Eagle Forum has lobbied strongly for the amendment.

Gayle Ruzicka, Eagle Forum: "It's a very good amendment and it should go before the people."

The three Attorney General candidates jointly oppose it, stating it could hurt many Utahns and their families.

Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "I'm not saying flat out 'this is unconstitutional'. I'm saying there are questions and concerns about it, clearly I can say about it, it will bring litigation. There's no doubt about that, if we include part two."

Gayle Ruzicka, Eagle Forum "His time to express that concern was during the legislative session, not now, now when he's trying to sabotage the bill."

Besides the potential to deny health insurance or death benefits, Shurtleff is concerned about what the amendment would do to domestic abuse protections.

Mark Shurtleff: "Same sex or even people who are living together, hetereosexual couples who aren't married, and want to get a protective order under this law, won't be able to do that."

In a poll for Eyewitness News last month, 62% of voters said legal benefits of marriage, property rights and medical decisions, should extend only to a one man, one woman couple.

Mark Shurtleff wonders if those polled realize that Utah's amendment has two parts and if their support is based on their perception that it follows the advice of religious leaders.

On July 7th, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement saying the first presidency favors an amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union between a man and a woman. Also specifically stating this was NOT an endorsement of any specific amendment.

Voters will likely be bombarded by ads and pamphlets on both sides. It may well be Utah's most controversial issue leading up to, including Election Day and following it.

Both sides agree it is too late to change the amendment. It will appear on the November ballot as written.

In Wednesday’s Deseret Morning News you can read about a new group organized to support the marriage amendment to Utah's Constitution.

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