Originally published on Advocate.com February 18 2005 1:00 AM ET
A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Alabama moved a step closer Wednesday to final passage in the Alabama legislature and could come up for a final vote as early as next week. The house and senate had both passed versions of the amendment last week. The house constitution and elections committee on Wednesday passed the amendment, which had already passed in the senate. The issue could come up again in the house and senate next week for final passage.
The house committee changed the bill so that it is almost identical to the proposed amendment by Rep. Yusuf Salaam (D-Selma) that passed the house last week. The committee chairman, Rep. Ken Guin (D-Carbon Hill), said the bill uses language almost identical to a current state law that bans marriage between people of the same sex. Supporters of the amendment have said it's important to have the
language in the constitution and not just in state code.
Guin said he expects the bill will pass the legislature quickly and go to voters in a statewide referendum. "I hope we can go ahead and move this issue out of the way as soon as possible," Guin said. The proposed amendment would be considered by voters in a special election or at the 2006 party primaries.
If voters go to the polls in a special election, banning same-sex marriage may not be the only issue on the ballot. The same house committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment Wednesday to allow the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools and public buildings. A similar amendment was also approved by the senate judiciary committee. If it passes the legislature, that amendment would also be voted on in the next special election or in the 2006 primary. Salaam, the only Muslim in the legislature, said he believes it's important for the legislature to deal with the issue of banning same-sex marriages. "Certainly the family is the key to civilized life, and I think it's an important issue," Salaam said.