Week Ending April 9, 2004
Religious Freedom Coalition
April 9, 2004 12:05PM EST
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - WEEK ENDING APRIL 9, 2004
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - WEEK ENDING APRIL 9, 2004
CONGRESS IN RECESS
SAME SEX MARRIAGE
U.S. Senators have complained to me and other social conservative leaders that there are hardly any "grassroots" calls or letters to House and Senate members asking to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment. Even though more than 100 organizations have been promoting the FMA, there have been few phone calls and letters to Senators. However, this may be explained, at least in the Senate, by a poorly organized effort that avoids the base issue that makes a Federal Marriage Amendment necessary. Senate leadership is using arguments for the FMA that do not motivate social conservatives to support it. To illustrate my point, I was told by a Senator who is one of the key proponents of the FMA that homosexuality would not be mentioned in the arguments to pass it. The Senator told me, "If we talk about same-sex relationships or homosexuality we look mean spirited. We can't go that way. It has been decided that we will take the high road and only talk about traditional marriage being the cornerstone of civilization. That is the way we have to go or we will get too much backlash." I see a big problem with this. The real reason people want the FMA passed is to stop the homosexual agenda. If marriage or civil unions for homosexuals are legalized, then our kids and grand kids will be taught in middle school health classes that homosexual relations are normal and no different from heterosexual sex. Our kids will be taught, contrary to our beliefs, that homosexual relationships are approved by the government. The leadership of the House and the Senate are at a complete disconnect with Christian conservatives and traditionalists. Either they do not understand why most people are against "gay marriage" or they believe saying they are against it will hurt their chances of being reelected. In any event the Senate and the House are now promoting FMA language that would allow states to provide "civil unions" for homosexuals, thus formally legalizing their relationships and setting the stage for homosexual acts being taught as normal behavior in our public school systems.
THE POLITICAL REALITY
The position of the Republican Party leadership as mentioned above, when compared to poll results, is totally disconnected from the position of the public's support for the FMA. While Republican leaders have decided not to mention homosexuality in the debate over the FMA, opposition to homosexual marriage is the primary motive of public support for the Amendment. This week The Polling Company released a poll conducted for the Home School Legal Defense Association. The part of the poll relating to the FMA revealed that 67% of the public oppose same-sex marriage in their home state. That opposition is at all levels, with 57% of Democrats and even 64% of "those who know gay people" being against same-sex marriage. Overall, 77% of voters surveyed agreed marriage in the United States should only be between one man and one woman. Of those, 69% said they felt "strongly" about the issue. As for the Federal Marriage Amendment itself, support dropped markedly when an option to allow civil unions was included. Only 32% of those polled favored civil unions for same-sex "couples."
Politically the advantage is with politicians who are against same sex-marriage. Some 59% of respondents said they would be "less likely" to vote for a candidate who favored same-sex unions. About 19% said they would be "more likely" to vote for a candidate who favored same-sex marriage. These findings are in total opposition to the Republican leadership position as outlined by Senate leadership. To the public, the issue is same-sex marriage, a term proponents of the FMA in the House and Senate do not even intend to use.
Even President George W. Bush is careful never to use the term "same-sex marriage." In his latest comments on the issue to the National Association of Evangelicals on the subject in March the President said, "I will defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. And government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. It is for that reason I support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman."
I support the President in his efforts to protect the institution of marriage. His position is firm and reflects his strong Christian beliefs. However, the strategy of the White House and Republican leaders in the House and Senate I believe has some serious shortfalls. How do you sell a Constitutional Amendment if you are not willing to talk about the underlying reason for presenting it, which is to stop same-sex marriage? The answer is that it can't be done.
Regardless of what happens in Massachusetts on May 1, 2004 I do not believe that the Federal Marriage Amendment will pass either the Senate or the House this year. The Democrat candidate for President, Senator John Kerry, now controls 49 votes in the 100 member Senate. He understands that a public vote forcing him and other Democrat leaders to vote against the FMA could cost him the election in November. He and the other 48 Democrat Senators will find some way to block the vote. If they can't, they will make sure that it falls just short of the 67 votes needed for passage. My final conclusion: the Federal Marriage Amendment is probably dead for this year unless there is a groundswell of public support for it that forces the issue. That is up to you. Contact your congressmen and Senators and tell them what you think should happen with the FMA this year. (Congressional contact information)
MEANWHILE IN MASSACHUSETTS
Within a few weeks the first official homosexual marriage sanctioned by a state will occur in Massachusetts. A state constitutional amendment passed by the state legislature there cannot even be voted on by the people until 2006. Even then it may have some trouble in passing. The proposed amendment to the state constitution of Massachusetts provides for civil unions that are exactly like marriage except for the name. The people are not given the choice to vote against civil unions as well as against same sex marriage. To accept the amendment, Christians must vote to establish civil unions and accept the normalization of homosexual acts. There has been no legal opinion on what will happen to the same-sex marriage licenses issued between May 17, 2004 and the date an amendment is ratified, if indeed it is.
In honor of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior the offices of the Religious Freedom Coalition will be closed Good Friday and will reopen until Monday.
"....thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24: 46-47.
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William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition - PO Box 77511 - Washington, DC 20013
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