NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Two prominent pro-family groups endorsed different constitutional marriage amendments Feb. 5, highlighting a split among family leaders over the issue of civil unions.
The Family Research Council endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment, while Concerned Women for American endorsed the Institution of Marriage Amendment.
Both amendments ban same-sex “marriage,” although the Institution of Marriage Amendment goes a step further by explicitly banning Vermont-type civil unions and other marriage-type contracts.
While pro-family groups generally are united in their opposition to civil unions and domestic partnerships, some leaders say that a strongly worded amendment — such as the Institution of Marriage Amendment — would be impossible to pass.
The Federal Marriage Amendment has been introduced in Congress, where it has 109 sponsors in the House and six sponsors in the Senate. The Institution of Marriage Amendment has yet to be introduced.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, as well as Focus on the Family, supports the Federal Marriage Amendment.
“FRC believes this language is the best language for such an amendment because it states that marriage in the United States consists of the union of one man and one woman and it ensures that the democratic process at the state level will continue to determine how marriage benefits are allocated,”
FRC President Tony Perkins said in his Washington Update e-mail Feb. 5.
“The amendment would also restrict courts from distorting existing constitutional or statutory law into a requirement that marital status be reallocated according to judicial arbitrary order,” Perkins wrote.
Interestingly, some scholars and political observers say that the Federal Marriage Amendment also bans civil unions. The amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” Andrew Sullivan, a prominent homosexual writer, has said that the “legal incidents thereof” clause would prohibit civil unions.
The Institution of Marriage Amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the United States nor any State shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse.”
Concerned Women for America President Sandy Rios said the Institution of Marriage Amendment is the stronger of the two amendments.
“This is the only amendment proposal,” she said in a statement, “that addresses both of the twin threats to marriage: capricious judicial decrees such as we have seen in Vermont and Massachusetts and legislative vandalism, as in California and New Jersey, whereby politicians carve up the legal attributes of marriage and hand them out to special interest groups by another name, i.e. civil unions or domestic partnerships.”
Alliance for Marriage President Matt Daniels — a major backer of the Federal Marriage Amendment — contends that it leaves the issue of civil unions up to the states.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Feb. 6 that he has been told that President Bush would endorse the Federal Marriage Amendment.
ROMNEY SPEAKS OUT — Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal Feb. 5 encouraging other states to pass defense of marriage acts so they won’t face the same problems his state faces. Because of a court order, same-sex “marriage” likely will be legal there in mid-May.
“I urge my fellow governors and all state legislators to review and, if necessary, strengthen the laws concerning marriage,” he wrote. “… In Massachusetts, gay rights advocates in years past successfully thwarted attempts to call a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This cannot happen again.”
Romney also proposed that the U.S. Constitution be amended, saying it “may be the best and most reliable way” to protect the traditional definition of marriage.
WEIGHING THEIR OPTIONS — Despite the landmark ruling by the Massachusetts high court Feb. 4, state legislators there aren’t giving up in their battle against same-sex “marriage” legalization.
One option, The Boston Globe reported Feb. 6, is to ask the high court to extend its stay until 2006, when voters could vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” Another option, the paper reported, is for the legislature to pass a law outlining the “rational basis” behind the current marriage law. In its November ruling, the court said there was no rational basis for denying same-sex couples marriage licenses.
“There’s more than one option,” House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran said, according to The Globe. “I can tell you that.”
KERRY BACKING AMENDMENT? — Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts has stated his opposition to a federal marriage amendment, although he has not ruled out supporting a state constitutional amendment in his home state, The Boston Globe reported. State legislators are scheduled to debate an amendment Feb. 11.
Asked Feb. 5 if he would support a state constitutional amendment, he said, “I’ll have to see what language there is.”
NEW ADS TARGET MASS. — FRC Action, the legislative arm of the Family Research Council, has begun airing a series of radio ads in Boston encouraging voters to ask their legislator to support a state constitutional amendment. The state legislature is scheduled to debate the issue Feb. 11.
“Have you thought about where same-sex marriage may lead?” the ad’s narrator asks. “Certainly teachers would have to teach that marriage has more than one option, but how many? What other marital relationships might be swept along with this tide?”
BILL PASSES OHIO HOUSE — Ohio is one step from becoming the 38th state with a defense of marriage act. The state House of Representatives passed the bill by a 72-22 vote Feb. 3. It now goes to Republican Gov. Bob Taft.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Taft would sign the bill and issue a “carefully worded statement” explaining his position.
NAACP LEADER FOR ‘EQUALITY’ — Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP’s board of directors, announced Feb. 2 that he favors legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The National Black Justice Coalition, a homosexual activist group, announced Bond’s support, saying he was speaking as a private citizen and not as an NAACP representative.
“I see this as a civil rights issue,” he said in a statement. “That means I support gay civil marriage.”
Many black leaders, though, say it is an insult to compare the civil rights movement with the “gay rights” movement.
AMENDMENT IN ALABAMA — Alabama has a law against same-sex “marriage,” but state Rep. Ken Guin, a Republican, wants to see the law strengthened by passage of a state constitutional amendment.
“I think that marriage is an institute between a man and a woman,” he said, according to WSFA-TV in Montgomery. “That’s what the Bible teaches.”
If passed by the legislature, the amendment would go before voters, WSFA reported.
AND LOUISIANA — Louisiana state Rep. A.G. Crowe is considering proposing a state constitutional amendment that would ban both same-sex “marriage” and domestic partner benefits, according to The Shreveport Times.
“I oppose any type of benefits and/or official recognition of any type of union or domestic partnerships outside of the traditional marriage of a man and a woman,” Crowe said.
PERHAPS MARYLAND — The state of Maryland has no defense of marriage act, but state lawmakers are considering one.
The Washington Post reported Feb. 6 that Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Democrat, is sponsoring a defense of marriage act that would ban the recognition of same-sex “marriages” from other states.
“I want to close the door while the horses are in the stable rather than try to close it later when they get out,” Burns said. “They are at the gate right now.”
EVEN NEW HAMPSHIRE? — Although 37 states have defense of marriage acts banning same-sex “marriage,” only one of them — Maine — is a New England state.
New Hampshire could become the second if New Hampshire state Sen. Joe Kenney, a Republican, has his way. He is co-sponsoring a state law that would protect the traditional definition of marriage.
“New Hampshire is a conservative state,” he said, according to WMUR-TV. “We don’t want same-sex marriage in New Hampshire at this point.”
CANADIANS STILL SPLIT — The latest Canadian poll shows that its citizens are split on the legalization of same-sex “marriage” — 48 percent are opposed, 47 percent are supportive.
The poll of 1,055 Canadians was conducted by Ipsos-Reid. Same-sex “marriage” is legal in two provinces, British Columbia and Ontario, and there is a movement to legalize it nationwide.
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