WASHINGTON (ABP) — An elections panel in Michigan and a state judge in Louisiana have presented obstacles to gay-marriage bans in those states.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines Aug. 23 when asked to certify petition signatures for a proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution. The amendment would not only ban same-sex marriage, but also marriage-like civil unions between partners of the same sex.
The deadlock means the proposed amendment will not appear on the November general-election ballot in that presidential-battleground state.
Supporters of the amendment said they had collected far more than the 318,000 petition signatures needed, and had expected the board's certification of the petitions to be merely a formality. But the board's two Democrats — who voted against certification — said they though the amendment would ultimately be ruled unconstitutional because it would void contracts and benefits arrangements between partners of the same sex.
Similarly, a state judge in Louisiana ruled Aug. 20 that a proposed ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in that state would violate the Louisiana Constitution. Civil District Judge Christopher Bruno of New Orleans said the proposal violated two tenets of the state's charter — that constitutional amendments may not deal with more than one subject, and that they must appear on the ballot on a statewide election day. The vote in Louisiana is scheduled for a special election Sept. 18.
Two other Louisiana courts ruled Aug. 23 and 24 against gay-rights activists who had sued to stop the amendment from appearing on the ballot. However, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, those rulings dealt only with procedural matters and not with the amendment's constitutional merits.
The conflict between courts in Louisiana means the state's Supreme Court will have to rule on the matter.
In Michigan, gay-rights opponents promised Aug. 23 to appeal the elections board's decision, according to the Detroit Free Press.