Supporters of a proposed amendment to the Alabama constitution to ban same-sex marriage say a majority of legislators have promised to vote for the measure. The president of the Alabama Christian Coalition, John Giles, on Thursday said 63 members of the 105-member Alabama house and 20 members of the 35-member senate have signed pledge cards promising to vote for the amendment. "These results affirm the support of traditional marriage," Giles said. He said he believes some house members and senators who did not return pledge cards also support the proposed amendment, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The amendment is expected to be debated in the regular session of the legislature, which begins February 2.
Not all lawmakers support the proposed amendment. The speaker pro tem of the house, Rep. Demetrius Newton (D-Birmingham), said he doesn't believe it's the business of the legislature to tell people who they can and can't marry. "Next they might say you can't marry a blond," Newton said.
Supporters of the amendment said at a news conference that they will also push to have the bill considered in a special session, if Gov. Bob Riley calls lawmakers back to Montgomery before the start of the regular session. "I believe Alabama is a traditional family state, and we should do all we can to protect traditional family values," said Sen. Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo). Erwin said he has prefiled the proposed amendment in the senate, while Rep. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said he's sponsoring the bill in the house. "To me, this is the most important issue we will see in my lifetime," Allen said. "Almost everyone knows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's a very basic rule."
Newton said he thinks it's "ludicrous" to ask lawmakers to promise how they will vote on any issue. "I don't commit to my constituents to what I'm going to do in future. I don't promise anybody that. I have changed my mind many times," Newton said.