A majority of states in America now have adopted constitutional marriage amendments.
Seven states—including Virginia—passed amendments Nov. 7 defining marriage, bringing to 27 the number of states nationwide that have adopted amendments aimed at prohibiting gay marriage. An eighth state, Arizona, defeated a marriage amendment.
The seven states passed the amendments with an average of 63.6 percent of the vote, ranging from 52 percent in South Dakota to 80 percent in Tennessee.
Virginia's amendment passed 57-43 percent.
In Colorado, conservatives celebrated a double victory, watching the amendment win easily while also helping defeat Referendum I, which would have granted same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage.
“This shows that, nationwide, Americans still support marriage,” Glen Lavy, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. “They know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and they're willing to say so by their votes.”
A victory in the blue state of Wisconsin may have been the most significant for pro-family groups. It faced stiff opposition in the weeks leading up to the election but passed easily, 59-41 percent. Wisconsin became the third state that voted Democratic in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to adopt a marriage amendment, joining Michigan and Oregon.
Tennessee's amendment passed easily despite a high hurdle that all constitutional amendments on the ballot there face. Such amendments must get not only a majority of votes, but also more “yes” votes than half of all the votes cast in the governor's election. Approximately 1,800,000 votes were cast for governor, meaning the amendment needed more than 900,000 votes. On Nov. 7, it garnered more than 1,400,000.
Lavy said the fact that a majority of states have marriage amendments could impact any future gay marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It is significant from a perspective of the U.S. Supreme Court's approach to constitutional questions, because in recent years the court has been saying that the trends in the states are significant for whether something is constitutional,” he said.
For instance, in the Lawrence v. Texas decision, the court said that “because most of the states no longer had laws prohibiting same-sex relationships, there was no rational basis for the Texas law,” Lavy said.