South Carolina Marriage Amendment Approved; Goes on 2006 Ballot

South Carolina’s House approved a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on Tuesday. Voters will have the final say as they vote on the issue in the November 2006 general elections.

The proposed amendment defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Proponents have pushed the bill as a means to protect existing state law from challenges by activist judges. The amendment would also prohibit the recognition of same-sex unions from out-of-state.

Having achieved the two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, the proposed amendment will go on the 2006 ballot. Both sides expect heated debate over the issue.

On one side, the bill has been referred to as discriminatory because it restricts the rights of a single group within the state. On the other side, the bill has been hailed as an accurate reflection of the views of the public and the legislation.

A simple majority in the public vote is all that is needed to amend the state constitution. Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage have already been approved in eighteen states, and three more states are expected to vote on the issue next year.