FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP)–Defining which type of human relationships constitute a “family” is likely to become a hotly debated issue in the Kentucky legislature soon an Aug. 19 hearing before a committee demonstrated.
A proposed resolution in the Kentucky House of Representatives, BR 143, which would prevent the state from recognizing same-sex marriages as legal unions protected by law, received its first hearing Aug. 19 before an interim joint committee for judiciary legislation. The resolution also would prevent marital unions between same-sex partners outside of Kentucky from being legally binding within the state’s boundaries.
Insisting the Bible defines what a true marriage is, Hershael York added, “It should not be redefined.” York, associate professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., spoke in favor of the resolution.
“The building block of a home is marriage between a man and a woman. The institution of marriage is rooted in the fact that men and women are physically and emotionally different, but complimentary to one another.”
York, formerly pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., was invited by the committee to offer testimony concerning a biblical view of the family. York joined the Southern Seminary faculty in June after a seven-year tenure at Ashland Ave.
Referring to Matthew 19:4-6, York said the words of Jesus in the passage outline God’s ordination of the marriage relationship. The seminary professor also stated the formation of the “nuclear family” within scripture could be found as early as Genesis 2:21-25. York was joined in support for the bill by Judith Reisman, retired military Colonel Ron Ray, and Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation.
“We don’t have to see the implications (of same sex-marriage) purely from a theological viewpoint,” York said. “If (such marriages) are given the force of law, then the public schools would have to teach that homosexuality is just another lifestyle form. Certain laws have the potential to force (such teaching) in the public arena.”
Opponents of the resolution fear such legislation denies individual rights and freedom in lifestyle choice and will encourage further discrimination against gays and lesbians. “Children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as happy and well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents,” said University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson. “There simply is no evidence to the contrary.”
Laura Drew and Jeanette Wollack, lesbian partners who also share custody of a child and are expecting the birth of another, testified “spiritual values” are a part of their home environment. “We made the decision (to have a child) by turning it over to God and we have been blessed,” Wollack said. She added such a bill would be a divisive and unwarranted attack on these type of families.
Drew and Wollack were joined by University of Kentucky Social Work Professor Joan Callahan and her partner, Jennifer Crossen, and the child with whom they share custody. Also speaking in opposition to the measure was Mendle Adams, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ. Adams opposes the bill on theological as well as social grounds saying such a measure is oppressive and discriminatory to people who are of different sexual orientations.
The Family Foundation, a Kentucky organization which promotes traditional values and ethics in the area of public policy matters, does not see the bill as “anti-gay” but as a measure to prevent further redefinition of “family” in legal and cultural issues.
The committee heard testimony on the bill but did not vote on the measure which is expected to be taken up in formal debate by the 1998 General Assembly. Gay and lesbian marriages currently are not recognized in Kentucky or any other state. However, the resolution stemmed from a pending court case in Hawaii where same sex-marriages could become legal in that state. Hawaii’s Supreme Court in 1993 ruled the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages constituted discrimination on the basis of sex.
“I do not question their sincerity when gays and lesbians say they are a family,” York said. “But they simply can not be classified as a family according to biblical standards because it is biologically impossible for homosexual partners as a couple to conceive children. Someone else must provide that conception.
“We have experimented with the institution of marriage long enough,” York added.
Chandler is a newswriter at Southern Seminary.