Alaskans Want Chance to Vote on Marriage Amendment

In a nonbinding advisory vote, 57 percent of Alaskans said they want a chance to whether the state constitution should be amended to protect the benefits of marriage.

In 1998, voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In spite of that, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in October 2005 that the state must extend benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

Tuesday’s advisory vote was intended to help the governor and state lawmakers decide if another amendment should be placed on the ballot – one that would clearly indicate that the state is not obligated to extend any of the benefits of marriage to others.

Jim Minnery, executive director of the Alaska Family Council, said the people sent a strong message to the Legislature, the governor and the state’s high court.

“Alaskans don’t want homosexual relationships treated as if they were the same as marriage between a man and a woman,” he told CitizenLink. “Voters want to make the marriage amendment stronger in response to efforts by unelected judges who want to weaken it.”

It is now up to Gov. Sarah Palin and state lawmakers to place a constitutional amendment on the 2008 ballot.

“Will they honor the will of the public?” Minnery asked. “Any legislator who said ‘Yes’ to the advisory vote and votes ‘No’ on the constitutional amendment is snubbing his nose at the voters.”

Republican Rep. John Coghill said he heard the message loud and clear.

The people said ” ‘Get us a constitutional amendment that we can consider,’ ” he told The Associated Press. “So I am going to use that as forcefully as I can in the Legislature.”