By Andy Sher
ATHENS, Tenn. —; Gov. Phil Bredesen said Tuesday that although Tennessee already has a law banning same-sex marriages, he expects to vote in favor of a proposed state constitutional amendment scheduled to go on the ballet in November.
“If there is a constitutional amendment, I’ll vote for it,” the governor said as he kicked off his re-election bid in East Tennessee. “I’m not for gay marriages.”
He said he had not seen the exact wording of the proposed amendment, but he said he thought putting it in the Tennessee Constitution seems like “overkill.”
Lawmakers in each house in 2005 passed the resolution embodying the proposed amendment by a two-thirds majority vote, which put it on the 2006 general election ballot. The House and Senate both passed the resolution by simple majority votes during the 103rd General Assembly, which met in 2003 and 2004.
Sen. Jeff Miller, R-Cleveland, was the prime Senate sponsor of the resolution, while Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, was the prime House sponsor.
Gregory Gleaves, campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson, a state senator from Franklin, Tenn., said, “Governor Bredesen says a lot of things during an election year.”
“What voters need to look out for is the sharp left turn his administration would take in a second term when he doesn’t have to go back before the voters,” Mr. Gleaves said.
Mr. Gleaves said Sen. Bryson always has backed the amendment.
National Democrats have accused Republicans of pushing initiatives such as proposed amendments that would ban same-sex marriage to boost Election Day turnout among the GOP’s base.
“Obviously it may bring out some very conservative voters,” Gov. Bredesen said Tuesday. “It’s such a one-sided issue in Tennessee it’s hard to imagine it having that much force.”
He said he expects 90 percent or more of Tennessee voters would back the amendment.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed a lawsuit charging that the state failed to meet notification requirements as outlined in the Tennessee Constitution, which states an amendment must be published six months before the next General Assembly election, The Associated Press reported. But a Davidson County judge in February ruled in favor of the lawmakers.
The proposed amendment will be on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. It will be approved only if a majority of those casting ballots in the gubernatorial election vote for it.
Staff writer Michael Davis and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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