The Idaho house
has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that
would ban same-sex marriage in Idaho.
"You cannot make people moral by legislation,"
the sponsor of the measure, Republican
representative Lawerence Denney, told his
colleagues on the house floor. "But all of our social laws
are legislated morality. Laws against murder and rape,
robbery and incest, are all social laws. These laws
are boundaries that we as a society say must not be
crossed. If we don't set boundaries and let everyone do what
is right in their own eyes, we lose our entire structure; we
Denney's proposal provides that "a marriage
between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal
union that shall be valid or recognized" in Idaho. To
be placed on the ballot in November, it must win approval
from two thirds of the house and the senate. It won that
easily in the House on a 53-17 vote Monday.
Opponents of the measure have argued that the
constitutional amendment is not necessary because
state law already defines marriage as being between a
man and a woman. "What is the problem we're trying to
solve?" asked Democratic representative Shirley Ringo.
"Some people are gay. These folks have every right to be
happy. We don't need to make their lives more difficult."
Supporters say the amendment would prevent
judges' overturning that law and would protect
children and families. "The notion that we would
develop public policy that would recognize same-sex marriage
or, worse yet, establish it through an activist court
would ignore that growing body of evidence that shows
how important it is to have a man and a woman involved
in a child's life for proper development," said Rep. Bill
Sali, a Republican from Kuna.
This year marks the third go-round for a
marriage amendment in the Idaho legislature. A similar
proposal passed a senate committee last year but
failed to win a two-thirds majority in the full senate. The
year before, the measure died in a senate committee
after it passed the house.
Gay rights advocates and other opponents of
Denney's measure expected it to pass the house. But
representatives against the measure still asked their
colleagues not to approve it. "Many of you have come to me
and apologized for your intent to vote yes on this
amendment," said Nicole LeFavour, the legislature's
only openly gay member. "I would ask instead perhaps
this day that you consider making that apology to
those people in your districts who will be directly impacted
by this amendment. You might not even know them....
Many gays and lesbians live invisibly out of the need
to protect their jobs, their families, their homes."
Mike Mitchell, a Democrat from Lewiston, told
his colleagues that before he set off for Boise in
January, his constituents asked him to focus on
property taxes, dealing with sexual predators, and trying to
solve the problem of methamphetamine use. "Not one
person asked me to come down here and support this
proposal that's before us," Mitchell said. "Keep in
mind why we were sent here; this wasn't the key issue."
The proposed amendment is now likely to be
assigned to a senate committee. If it passes that
committee, it will go before the full senate. (AP)