South Dakotans will vote next year on a constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring the state does not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The state senate on Monday approved the proposed amendment banning gay marriage for placement on the 2006 general election ballot. The vote was 20-14. The house passed the legislative resolution earlier, 55-14.
Supporters said the measure would bolster a state law that has defined legal marriage in South Dakota since 1996 as the ceremonial coupling of one man and one woman. "When we become unwilling to stand against certain things, we will not stand for anything," said Republican senator John Koskan. "Marriage is the foundation of the family."
An opponent said the proposal is an affront to gays and lesbians. "It says once more, from one more institution in their life, 'We don't like you, and we don't want you in our state,"' Democratic senator Ben Nesselhuf said.
Voters in 17 states have approved constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriages. Similar proposals are being considered in 15 other states, Koskan said. In Tennessee the senate approved legislation 29-3 Monday night to allow voters to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. A house version of the measure is moving through a committee.