A proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages will apparently appear on the fall ballot, but an amendment allowing people to refuse to perform abortions is one vote short.
The House approved the marriage amendment Monday by a 28-12 vote, one more than the two-thirds majority necessary, while the abortion amendment failed 26-14. Reconsideration votes may occur today and the Senate, which previously approved the measures, must concur in changes made by the House before the constitutional amendments can be placed on the November general election ballot.
Supporters and opponents of both constitutional amendments gathered in the halls and House galleries late Monday, wearing stickers and comparing notes in what they expected to be close votes.
Katie Coate, a working missionary on Prince of Wales Island, expressed disappointment when the abortion proposal failed, but said the subsequent passing of the marriage amendment was a victory.
``I don't believe in bashing anybody, but I believe God has set a moral standard,'' she said.
Opponents of Senate Joint Resolution 42, which says marriage can only be between one man and one woman, exchanged consoling hugs and began looking ahead to November after Monday's House vote. They said the bill's only purpose is to discriminate against homosexuals and similar campaigns in other states have been dominated by hateful rhetoric.
``I think it's going to be a very ugly campaign in the fall,'' said Kim Metcalfe-Helmar, a Juneau resident.
Rep. Bill Hudson, a Juneau Republican, supported the marriage proposal while Rep. Kim Elton, a Juneau Democrat, opposed it. Rep. Con Bunde of Anchorage was the sole member of the Republican-led majority to oppose the amendment, while Rep. Carl Moses of Unalaska was the lone Democrat in the minority to favor it.
The abortion measure, Senate Joint Resolution 35, would allow health care facilities and workers to refuse to perform elective abortions if they personally object to the procedure.
Rep. Scott Ogan, a Palmer Republican, said he'd want the amendment if he was a health care worker.
``I would probably have to walk away from my job before I could do it,'' he said.
Opponents of the proposal said it is unnecessary, since elective abortions are currently performed at clinics and no hospital refuses to perform them when they are needed for medical reasons. Elton said such an amendment would also result in hospital board and other local officials being appointed on the basis of their stand on abortion, rather than their expertise.
Rep. John Davies, a Fairbanks Democrat, said the bill is so vague that employees such as receptionists and bookkeepers might have the ability to deny people access to abortions by refusing to process paperwork.
Both amendments were introduced in response to recent court rulings.
The marriage resolution was introduced after Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski issued a Feb. 27 ruling that could invalidate a law passed last year banning same-sex marriages in the state. He ruled people have a fundamental right to choose life partners and the state would have to show a compelling interest for the law to remain in effect.
The abortion proposal was introduced because the Alaska Supreme Court ruled last year Valley Hospital in Palmer could not refuse to perform the procedure because it has received public funds. Supporters of the proposal note abortion was legalized in Alaska in 1970 with the option of allowing people opposed to refuse to perform them.
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