Gay Marriage Amendment Victories Rolling In

Proponents of constitutional amendments banning gay marriage (search) and civil unions say they are not surprised by the decisive victories in several states Tuesday night.

Ballot initiatives approving a state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage in Mississippi and Montana passed by sizeable margins early this evening, while initiatives that went further, also banning civil unions, passed in Arkansas, Utah, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, North Dakota, Georgia and Arkansas.

Polling for a gay marriage ban in Oregon showed close numbers running up to Election Day.

Click  here to read about major state races and ballot issues.

Phil Burress, president of the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values (search), said the victories were a mandate against activist judges who were trying to legislate marriage from the bench.

"This is a revolutionary battle; it's a cultural war," he told "We will not stop until we get to the US Constitution."

Sadie Fields, Georgia Christian Coalition spokeswoman, added: "The people in this state realized that we're talking about the future of our country here."

Burress said the ballot initiatives were in direct response to a March ruling by state judges in Massachusetts that found gay marriage to be protected by that state's constitution and ordered the state legislators there to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Conservatives have warned states that without changes to their own state constitutions, they may face the same fate.

Changes to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage have been proposed and supported by President Bush, but fell flat in Congress this year.

Gay rights groups expressed disappointment Tuesday night, though the results were not unexpected.

"[Initiatives] don't protect anyone, but they do discriminate against families," said Steven Fisher, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign (search).

Though legal action against the ballot initiatives has already been mentioned in reports in at least one state — Georgia — Fisher said it was unclear whether the gay rights community would use the courts to fight the latest round of gay marriage amendments. If all 11 states' initiatives pass on Election Night, then the majority of states in the nation would have some sort of anti-gay constitutional amendment or defense of marriage act on the books.

Burress said he expects a legal fight. "That’s what [initiatives] are all about, it's about finding a judge who will agree with them and overturn the will of the people," he said.

Fisher said he would not jump to any conclusions. "I don't know the answer to that right now, we're still seeing the results coming in."

Conservatives also hoped that the ballot initiatives would drive their voters to support Bush for re-election, particularly in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan, though among early evening returns, it was too early to tell whether it had any real effect on the presidential race.