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Q&A: An interview with the man behind the marriage amendment

WASHINGTON (BP)–When Matt Daniels began pushing for a constitutional marriage amendment some four years ago, he says he was the “only human being” in Washington doing so.

How times have changed.

Today Daniels’ amendment is at the heart of a national debate over the definition of marriage. As head of the Alliance for Marriage — the organization that crafted and first promoted the Marriage Protection Amendment — Daniels has seen the landscape change dramatically.

Initially, he struggled simply to find a congressional sponsor. Today, his amendment has the support of the president and the House and Senate majority leaders.

In the last year alone, Massachusetts has legalized same-sex “marriage” and several other states — including New Jersey and Washington — appear to be on the verge of doing the same.

The amendment failed to receive a majority of votes in the Senate this summer during a procedural vote. But it did receive a majority of votes in the House, although it fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

Only two sentences, the amendment states: Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

Baptist Press recently talked to Daniels to get his thoughts on the status of the national debate. Following is a partial transcript:

BAPTIST PRESS: Looking back over the debate in the Senate and the House, are you satisfied with how it went?

MATT DANIELS: I am. We had two goals in both the House and the Senate — both of which we achieved. One was to get candidates of both parties on the record before the election, which is critical if voters are going to hold them accountable. [Two] was to raise public awareness of the issue before the courts begin striking down marriage laws across the country, which is now imminent. … Right after the election we’re going to see a wave of lawsuits to strike down marriage in different states across the country. And that is when the great national struggle to save marriage is really going to begin.

Everything up to this point has been sort of a preliminary phase, but the real national battle is now about to begin. And the national battle will take place after election regardless of the outcome of the election.

BAPTIST PRESS: Why haven’t we seen lawsuits by the major homosexual activists groups in federal court yet [against the Defense of Marriage Act]? [Editor’s note: Although one lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in Florida, none of the major homosexual activist organizations are involved.]

MATT DANIELS: Their primary goal above all else is to overcome both public opinion and the democratic process. That is their primary goal. And so they do not want this to be an issue during an election. Once the election is over, they will turn to the courts to try to force their will on every man, woman and child in the United States. And the courts, unfortunately, are going to side with the radical groups that are behind the effort to destroy marriage.

So we will be in a race. It’s a race between the American people and a handful of activist groups and courts that sympathize with their agenda.

BAPTIST PRESS: The clock is ticking, then?

MATT DANIELS: That’s right. The good news is that because the Alliance for Marriage drafted a viable amendment and did so before anyone was thinking that this day would come, we have a fighting chance.

BAPTIST PRESS: What’s the next Massachusetts? Do you see one or two or three [states that will next legalize same-sex “marriage”]?

MATT DANIELS: I would expect that the next lawsuits will come in the states where the federal courts are deemed to be most sympathetic — the Ninth Circuit would be one obvious choice, and some others. In order to create a sense of inevitable momentum they will seek to file first in the courts that are most likely to give them victories.

BAPTIST PRESS: Did you have any goals for the numbers in the House? You got 227 [votes for the amendment].

MATT DANIELS: No, we really didn’t…. Neither of our goals was dependent upon the actual tally of the vote. We know that right now we don’t have the political momentum to get the amendment out of the House and the Senate because the American people don’t realize what is about to happen after the election.

But once these lawsuits start across the country, the political climate will change and it will move in our direction. Our momentum is strong in the states and it’s going to get stronger.

BAPTIST PRESS: Are you fearful that [voters] might think that state [constitutional] amendments are enough [to protect the traditional definition of marriage]?

MATT DANIELS: We definitely need to be clear that only AFM’s marriage amendment will stop what is coming in the courts. Having said that, the ballot initiatives in the states are useful because they raise awareness and because they help to lay the groundwork. The ballot initiatives are a political dress rehearsal for the ratification of AFM’s amendment. In that respect, they’re good.

BAPTIST PRESS: During Senate debate it seemed like some members indicated they might vote for it if the second sentence were to be tweaked or taken out altogether. Is that an option?

MATT DANIELS: It’s always been our plan to wait for the American public to wake up to the fact that this is a national battle — that marriage in every state is at risk. If that moment comes, and it is still impossible to get the full text of our amendment out of the Congress, then it has always been our intention, if necessary, to focus on the first sentence alone.

[But] the second sentence contains important provisions to protect the right of people in the states to make determinations about benefits. From that perspective, it would be extremely helpful to be able to keep the second sentence. The second sentence is really about democracy.

BAPTIST PRESS: If DOMA is struck down in the federal courts in the next year, year and a half, do you expect to get more support both in the House and Senate?

MATT DANIELS: No question about it. It’s getting harder and harder for people to hide behind false argument about states rights when it’s obvious to everyone who understands the issue that those who are behind the effort to destroy marriage have no intention of letting the states decide anything. They intend to force a uniform, national standard — in the name of the Constitution — on every man, woman and child in the United States. They simply want the judges and the courts to be the sole arbiters of the question of the constitutional status of marriage.

BAPTIST PRESS: How many years have you been fighting for this amendment?

MATT DANIELS: About four years.

BAPTIST PRESS: So in your mind, you guys have come a long way.

MATT DANIELS: When I arrived in Washington, I was the only human being in this town who was thinking or talking about the need for this amendment. So, if you consider that the president of the United States, the leader of the Senate, the leader of the House and large numbers of ordinary Americans are now standing behind this movement, ultimately the Lord has brought us a long, long way.

Our momentum can best be explained by the fact that this institution was woven into the fabric of reality by the Lord. It is part of the very nature of who we are as human beings. And that is where the momentum for this effort comes from.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust