House Concurrent Resolution 56, passed by the Mississippi Legislature this past spring, will appear on the ballot this Tuesday. In a nutshell it asks voters to vote for or against a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriages in Mississippi. The problem now is with its wording.
"We've always said that anytime there's a resolution or constitutional amendment it seems to be worded in jargon that people have trouble understanding, so we've tried not to over simplify but tried to explain to the voters as they have come in to vote absentee," says Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson.
The amendment reads as follows:
"This proposed constitutional amendment provides that marriage may take place and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a woman. The amendment also provides that a marriage in another state or foreign jurisdiction between persons of the same gender may not be recognized in this state and is void and unenforceable under the laws of the state."
To the voter this means.
"If they vote yes that means they're in favor of a male and female marrying. If they vote no they support anybody marrying," says Johnson.
While Alabama does not have a similar amendment on the ballot, at least 16 other states including Arkansas and Louisiana have either already passed a similar amendment or have one on the ballot next week.
Mississippi has had a law in place since 1997 banning gay marriages in the state. However, supporters of the amendment say it will provide more protection if the state law is challenged in court. The amendment needs only a majority of the votes to pass.