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Idaho house
approves proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage

Idaho house
approves proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage

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 have chaos." 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)

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