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Utah Puts Same-Sex Marriage Issue to Voters

Date: March 5, 2004

Utah is one of the first states in the nation to pass a proposal through both legislative houses for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages. The issue will now be put to Utah voters on the November 2004 ballot. Currently, four states—Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada—have constitutional amendments that define marriage specifically as the union between a man and a woman.

Though 39 states currently have Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) statutes, those statutes are subject to overruling based on the equal protection and due process clauses of state and federal constitutions. Thus, for states whose citizens are concerned about maintaining the traditional definition of marriage, lawmakers are introducing constitutional amendments.

The Utah Senate passed the marriage amendment proposal in a 20-7 vote on Wednesday, followed by a House approval of 58-14. And while there was sufficient support from lawmakers to pass the amendment on to the people of Utah, some legislators voiced apprehension about the need for a constitutional amendment so quickly. In 2003, Utah lawmakers passed a law banning same-sex marriage, and opponents of the amendment say that the law should be enough.

However, supporters of the amendment cite the actions of judges in Massach

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