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Idaho group seeks
same-sex marriage ban

Idaho group seeks
same-sex marriage ban

Supporters of a proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Idaho are giving the issue another try this year, with a new conservative group called the Idaho Values Alliance leading the charge. "The signal that we've gotten from legislative leadership on the house and senate side is they'd like to see an amendment go forward," said Bryan Fischer, executive director of the Boise-based group. Fischer, who served as state senate chaplain in 2001, held a news conference Sunday in the Idaho statehouse to introduce his group and its mission. Religious liberties are threatened in Idaho, Fischer said, citing the 2004 Boise city council decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a city park after 40 years as well as court decisions concerning prayer in public schools. Legislative attempts to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage have failed the past two years. A constitutional amendment must pass the house and senate by at least a two-thirds majority and win approval from the governor before being placed on the general election ballot. Last year the Idaho senate blocked a measure that would require the state to recognize only marriages between one man and one woman. That measure also would have banned civil unions, which grant gay couples the legal rights and benefits of marriage. Idaho already has a 1997 law banning same-sex marriage, but Fischer and other supporters say the amendment is needed too. He noted that in Washington State, the state supreme court is considering a challenge of Washington's 1998 ban on same-sex marriage. "Because Washington State does not have a constitution that protects marriage, the state supreme court there may well issue a ruling any day now that would provide for gay marriage," Fischer said. House speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Republican from Burley, recently expressed support for such an amendment, saying his constituents want it. Other groups oppose an amendment as unnecessary. "Why would we amend the constitution to limit the rights and freedoms of anybody?" said Andrea Shipley, a spokeswoman for a Boise group called Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors. "I think most people in Idaho have their own private ceremonies, and some may be church-sponsored, and some not," she said. (AP)

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