Magazine article Insight on the News

Two States Will Vote on Gay Nuptials; Alaskans Will Join Hawaiians in Determining Gays' Rights in the Area of Marriage

Magazine article Insight on the News

Two States Will Vote on Gay Nuptials; Alaskans Will Join Hawaiians in Determining Gays' Rights in the Area of Marriage

Article excerpt

Alaskans will join Hawaiians in determining gays' rights in the areas of marriage.

The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that a constitutional amendment upholding traditional marriage can appear on the November ballot. The decision means that citizens of Hawaii and Alaska will vote this fall on a hugely controversial issue: whether marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.

The issue has moved to the ballot box because of lawsuits filed by homosexuals in the two states. Gay couples claim they wrongly have been denied civil marriage licenses. A third lawsuit, filed by homosexual couples in Vermont last year, is scheduled to go before the state's high court in November.

In Alaska, a right-to-marry lawsuit filed in 1995 did not garner much attention until this February, when a Superior Court judge ruled that Alaska couldn't deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples unless it proved it had a compelling need to do so. The state Legislature responded by writing a constitutional amendment that holds, "To be valid or recognized in this state, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman."

The amendment originally had a second sentence maintaining that the Alaska Constitution could not be interpreted to allow same-sex marriage. In September, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the amendment could proceed to a vote, but without the second sentence.

The high court's decision is "a total victory," says Kevin Clarkson, an attorney in Anchorage who represents the Legislature. …

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