Friday, October 13, 2006

National Marriage Battle Intensifying

Same-sex Marriage supporters, foes continue on collision course

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"The forces that are behind these lawsuits are absolutely committed to impose this on our nation through the courts." -- Matt Daniels

Even though 46 states have passed amendments or statutes defining marriage as solely a relationship between a man and a woman, Alliance for Marriage founder Matt Daniels is wary.
Daniels knows the decision of only one judge could undermine the pronouncements of 20 voter-approved state amendments and 26 state legislatures protecting traditional matrimony.

It almost happened in July. The Washington State Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the state's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act limiting marriage to one man and one woman. But an imminent breakthrough is possible in any of half a dozen other states where homosexual marriage activists have argued their cause before the highest courts.

"The forces that are behind these lawsuits are absolutely committed to impose this on our nation through the courts," says Daniels, whose organization is based in Merrifield, Va. "They eventually will succeed in more states than Massachusetts."

By a 4-3 vote, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 2003 determined that same-sex couples have a fundamental, constitutional right to marry. But the law there restricts such marriages just to Bay State residents.

In most other states where suits are pending, nonresidents would be able to file for marriage licenses as well, creating a potentially chaotic national patchwork of legally binding unions. That's one of the reasons Daniels has been pressing since 1999 for a federal amendment that narrowly defines marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.

"We are inevitably going to have a national standard with respect to marriage," Daniels predicts. "Marriage is too fundamental a social institution to have radically different definitions in different states."

It's been a bruising battle so far. In June, the U.S. Senate couldn't even rally 50 members to bring the issue to debate, let alone the 67 votes needed for passage.

In July, the U.S. House rejected a constitutional amendment introduced by Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, an Assemblies of God member. Although the measure passed 236-1.87, it fell 47 votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority for enactment. A constitutional amendment failed in both houses of Congress in 2004 under nearly identical circumstances.

Daniels believes the national battle will become more intense. Many media, business and education forces have lined up against the amendment. Yet in every state where a ballot referendum has occurred, traditional marriage has triumphed, frequently by lopsided tallies.
"This is not just an issue for people of Faith," Daniels says. "This crosses racial, cultural and religious lines."

Still, many editorial writers and cartoonists ridiculed congressional leaders for even bringing the matter up this summer, viewing it as a minor issue compared to the conflict in Iraq, immigration reform, gas prices and health care.

Even Christians haven't been mobilized to the extent Daniels and others expected. If a state legalizes homosexual marriage and out-of-state residents are allowed to wed there, Daniels envisages the United States quickly following the path of Canada, where clergy have been charged with hate speech crimes for preaching the biblical view of marriage and Christian schools have lost tax-exempt status and accreditation.

"If our laws are altered to declare marriage between a man and a woman as a form of bigotry, it will have profound consequences on the church," Daniels says.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, where more than 8,000 same-sex couples have recited vows since 2004, Christians are working to pressure the legislature to put on the 2008 ballot a state constitutional amendment overturning the judicial court's decision.

Assemblies of God Southern New England Superintendent Otis D. Stanley says the district has encouraged Massachusetts churches to incorporate marriage standards in their bylaws.
"We take a stand that no Assemblies of God minister will ever be forced to conduct a marriage against his or her conscience," Stanley says.

In addition to Massachusetts permitting homosexual marriage, Connecticut and Vermont have a "civil union" option for homosexual couples.

In November elections, another half-dozen stares -- Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin -- will have homosexual marriage amendments on ballots. In addition to two-thirds passage by Congress, a federal constitutional amendment must secure approval from three-fourths (38) of the states.

Another reason a federal constitutional amendment is necessary, Daniels says, is the full faith and credit clause in Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution. A ruling allowing homosexual marriage in one state could invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress a decade ago.

"Too many Christians are believing the political rhetoric that this is a state issue," says Glenn T. Stanton, author of Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting. "But it's also a federal issue because you can't have differing marriage laws in different states."
Stanton, who is also marriage and sexuality senior analyst with Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., says it's important for Christians to understand the theological implications of homosexual marriage.

"Both male and female represent the image of God, but the same-sex marriage proposal says a particular part of the image of God is not important for the family," Stanton says.

Traditional marriage advocates are in agreement with the Washington State Supreme Court majority decision, which declared, "Limiting marriage to opposite sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children."
Stanton believes homosexual activists shortchange the needs of children in making their marriage arguments.

"All human civilization at any time and any place has been based on marriage between men and women," Stanton says. "No society needs more civil unions to solve social problems. Government shouldn't be in the business of blessing emotional relationships."

"Courts may be able to change laws, but they cannot change the fundamental reality that our kids need a mom and a dad," says Daniels, whose own father left his mother when Daniels was 2. "In the long run we will win this battle based on that evidence."

Daniels has been able to recruit clergy across the denominational, political and ethnic spectrum to his cause. Ordained Assemblies of God ministers Samuel Bettencourt of Downey, Calif., and Sam Rodriguez Jr. of Sacramento, Calif., are in leadership roles with AFM.

Rodriguez, who also is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has been engaged in keeping the issue before 15 million Latinos.

"We understand what Scripture dictates in regard to sin and homosexuality," Rodriguez says. "But we tackle the issue from the reality that we need a mom and a dad in the home. That is the number one deterrent to gang violence, drug abuse, dropping out of school and teenage pregnancy. Marriage is the institution that is the bedrock of civilization."

Marriage is important because it defines humanity, Stanton argues. "Marriage is the place in society that bridges the human divide and brings men and women together on a whole bunch of levels," Stanton says. "The same-sex marriage proposition really says half of humanity is merely optional."


Christinewjc said...

As we can see from the PDF link photo, many people are not happy with the judicial tyrannical decision that imposed "gay" marriage in that state. They want the opportunity to vote on the issue!

After all is said and done, VOTING on such matters is the proper, democratic-republic way for important societal decisions that our founding fathers originally envisioned. Not the granting of a new "right" by judicial fiat!!

Christinewjc said...

I don't think that this article is very accurate in its pro-gay-marriage assumptions. The history of state bans tells us that a huge majority of people (most close to 70%; the highest (Mississippi) a whopping 86%!!) want marriage to remain a union between one man and one woman. See chart below.

It makes one wonder. Are pro-gay-marriage activists being totally disingenuous when they claim that people who believe (like me) that marriage should remain as it's been defined for thousands of years are "bigoted," "hateful," and "intolerant?" That's a huge amount of people to slander...don't you think??


History of constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The following states will have referendums on bans next month: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin.

Year State Approved

1998 Alaska 68%

2000 Nebraska 70%

Nevada 70%

California 61%

2002 Nevada{+1} 67%

2004 Arkansas 75%

Georgia 76%

Kentucky 75%

Louisiana 78%

Michigan 59%

Mississippi 86%

Missouri 71%

Year State Approved

Montana 67%

N. Dakota 73%

Ohio 62%

Oklahoma 76%

Oregon 57%

Utah 66%

2005 Kansas 70%

2006 Alabama{+2} 82%

1 Nevada's constitutional amendments must be approved twice

2 Alabama voted in June primary

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures