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FIRST-PERSON: Federal Marriage Amendment: far from dead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Let me be very, very clear about this, lest anyone mislead you. The New York Times said the Federal Marriage Amendment died with a whimper. I assure you the amendment is not dead and there was no whimper. We had a vote in the U.S. Senate — that in itself was a victory and a tremendous first step in the right direction. The Federal Marriage Amendment is alive and well and will live to fight another day. Be encouraged by where we are on this issue.

I want to personally thank all of you who called your senators and congressmen and made your voices heard. In the two weeks before the vote, the grassroots inundated the Senate switchboard with so many phone calls that it shut down their voicemail system for the first time in memory. Your voices were heard when it came time for a vote on cloture and because of you, some of your senators felt the heat, saw the light and voted accordingly. As recently as six weeks before the vote, strongly pro-FMA senators were very worried the amendment would not receive 20 votes. Phone calls do make a difference.

The Senate vote was 48-50, with three Democrats voting for the amendment and six Republicans voting against it. Only two senators in the entire U.S. Senate did not have the courage to stand up and be counted on this monumentally important issue — John Kerry and John Edwards, two profiles in cowardice.

Americans overwhelmingly oppose same-sex “marriage.” The landslide passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” in Missouri by a 71-29 percent margin underscores grassroots outrage against this unprecedented judicial assault on marriage.

I expect the Federal Marriage Amendment to receive a much better reception in the House of Representatives. That vote is expected in September. There is no question that same-sex “marriage” will be a big issue for candidates in November and we need to hold all incumbent senators and congressmen accountable for how they voted on this measure.

If the senators who are against the amendment lose, the senators who are for the amendment win and we elect a president in support of the amendment, then we are well on our to way to 67 votes when the next session of Congress convenes in January 2005.

It is issues like this that make our iVoteValues.com initiative so very critical. This grassroots voter mobilization and education effort calls on Americans to register to vote, helping them understand they have an obligation to participate in the political process and vote their values.

The issues are far too important for Christians to allow personal preferences and concerns to dictate their vote in November. Pastors must encourage church members to register to vote, to educate themselves on the candidates’ positions and then to vote. We should never tell people how to vote, but we should tell them that they have an obligation and a responsibility to be informed and to be involved in the process.

Our loyalty doesn’t belong to our family, to any region of the country or anything as superficial as a political party. Our loyalty belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. We should be looking for candidates who endorse us and who endorse our faith-informed values and convictions.

Homosexuals don’t want us just to tolerate their behavior; they want society to affirm it, endorse it, and to say that it’s perfectly normal and just as healthy, moral and acceptable as any other lifestyle. They are attempting to achieve through activist judicial dictatorship what they could never achieve through the democratic process. It is up to us to use the democratic process to thwart them in their attempt.

This is the real face of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Yet a democracy only works if citizens participate. If, according to national polls, two out of three Americans are opposed to same-sex “marriage,” then that perspective needs to be expressed and heeded. If our senators won’t express those views, perhaps we need to elect senators and congressmen who will.

It is possible that the Federal Marriage Amendment could have at least 60 votes in the Senate in January, but it depends on you. If you are for the amendment, you need to cast your ballot in a way that shows you support those senators and candidates who support it and oppose those senators and candidates who are against it. Trust me, they’ll get the message in Washington. On Election Day, vote your values, your convictions and your beliefs.

We should be greatly encouraged by the vote in the Senate and the tremendous victory in Missouri. We had a vote, we got 48 votes, and at least 98 senators are on record either for or against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Now we need to go out there and express our convictions about how our senators voted.
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    About the Author

  • Richard Land

    Richard Land, D. Phil, is the Executive Editor of the Christian Post, having previously served as president of the ERLC (1988-2013) and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (2013-2021). He also serves as the chairman of the advisory board at the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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