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Same-sex marriage certain to remain key issue confronting U.S. culture

HONOLULU (BP)–Same-sex marriage is an issue that isn’t going away.
“The push for gay marriages is all about public acceptance of what God calls an abomination,” said California Christian-issues lobbyist Art Croney, director of the Committee on Moral Concerns. “They don’t need marriage. They crave public acceptance. They want society to tell them they’re OK.”
A 1990s judicial process liberalized by the “make love not war” excesses of the 1960s is helping the homosexual agenda, said Barrett Duke, a Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty spokesman.
“Unfortunately, there is considerable judicial activism today,” Duke said, explaining: “Many of these justices developed their thoughts about these issues in the 1960s, when they were exposed to many liberal ideas in what were their formative years. This has caused our justices to broadly interpret current law in order to influence new legislation. The person who gets to determine the interpretation gets to determine what’s in and what’s out.”
Same-sex marriage first flared as an issue in 1970 in California, when the Los Angeles county clerk — after receiving numerous inquiries from homosexual couples wanting marriage licenses — requested that the state legislature tighten the law.
From there it spread to court cases: Minnesota (1971), Wisconsin (’72), Kentucky (73), Washington state (’74), Ohio (’74), Arizona (’75), when the state legislature passed an emergency bill defining marriage as possible only between one man and one woman, Maryland (’75), Washington D.C. (’75) and, in 1977, California again, where one year later legislation was passed that added “between one man and one woman” to the state’s definition of marriage.
Silence for 13 years, except for a 1986 announcement by the American Civil Liberties Union that it would seek to eliminate barriers to same-sex marriage and a 1989 proclamation by the Bar Association of San Francisco calling for the legalization of homosexual marriages.
Legal scrambling for same-sex marriage that touched Illinois, California and Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s gained focus in 1993 in Hawaii, when three same-sex couples thwarted in their desire to marry cried “discrimination.” Alaska became the second hotbed. The argument used by gay activists there: right to privacy.
The issue of same-sex marriage finally appeared on Hawaii and Alaska ballots last November. Nearly 70 percent of the voters in both states affirmed constitutional initiatives limiting marriage to one man and one woman, but that doesn’t settle the matter.
The Hawaii Supreme Court still can issue a ruling on a case that has worked its way through the state courts. The ACLU in Hawaii referred to a December ruling by an Oregon appellate court in a brief it filed in January accepting same-sex marriage in Hawaii as a non-legal union, but with all other spousal benefits heterosexual couples enjoy. The ruling in Oregon, now before the state’s supreme court, would require state and local governments in Oregon to grant such benefits to same-sex couples.
“The decision in Oregon was very discouraging for this very reason,” said Bill Duncan, associate director of the Marriage Law Project in Washington. “It gives another tool to those who would like to see marriage benefits for same-sex couples.”
In Alaska, it’s all over for now but a minor procedural element, Duncan said. “There’s no way they can get around the [state constitutional] amendment that was passed,” he said, referring to the vote affirming marriage between one man and one woman.
“The only way they can is to say the amendment is not constitutional,” Duncan said, “and that would have to go to federal court, and they’re not very receptive yet to finding a right to same-sex marriage in the constitution.”
Vermont is the third major hotbed, with homosexual activists arguing personal choice. The same-sex marriage issue there is still being reviewed by the state supreme court.
“There’s no time limit for the court to make a decision,” Duncan said. “Each of the members of the supreme court this spring has to be up for reconfirmation, to keep their seat. We’re wondering if they’re going to wait until they’re reconfirmed to make their decision.”
There are three likely possibilities in Vermont, Duncan said. Worst case scenario: the state supreme court will determine the law should allow same-sex couples to marry. Best case: the court will determine the constitution does not provide for same-sex marriages. Most likely: the court will determine a trial is needed.
“That’s what happened in Hawaii,” Duncan said. “That might give the state time to pass an amendment protecting marriage.”
The ERLC’s Duke, as well as Duncan and constitutional law specialist Jordan Lorence, all see the possibility if not probability that same-sex marriage could become a legal reality in the United States within two generations.
“I think we’re seeing the first fruits of a broader interpretation of acceptable sexual relationships,” Duke said. “As long as college and university students are subjected to the kinds of messages they’re receiving today in the average college and university, the current debate will continue.
“I think homosexual marriage could be legally accepted within this generation, but unless something significant happens and our country is restored to its moral roots, it will certainly happen in the next generation,” Duke continued. “The Bible clearly indicates homosexuality is sinful behavior. For God to wink at the homosexual behavior in this country would make what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah an unjust act.”
Said Duncan, “I’m not sure how long we can hold this off. I think unless we work harder to strengthen the traditional definition of marriage and unless we are able to exemplify the value of marriage between a man and a woman, it will be hard to resist attacks on traditional marriage.”
Lorence concurred, saying, “I am hoping that these legal challenges to marriage will help people in America wake up and examine our own lives, and say, ‘If we don’t clean up our act, how can we say no to same-sex marriage?’ But we must, or we will undermine society.
“I think [legalization of same-sex marriage] is a definite disaster that will inevitably take place unless people go back to the biblical model and understand its implications,” Lorence continued. “The Scriptures say in Proverbs not to move the ancient boundary markers your ancestors have set. If you do not funnel the sexual energies of people into one man/one woman marriage, you bring chaos into society.”
“These groups are very aggressive,” Duncan said, “and having come close to winning in Hawaii they’re not likely to give up.
“There are very few pro-family groups who can spend all their time working on this issue, but that’s not the case in pro-same-sex marriage activists,” Duncan said. “They spend all day every day at it.”
Same-sex marriage will be “the top battle for religious freedom we will face in 1999 and possibly 2000,” wrote Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, in a mid-December fax update.
“This is the future of our nation, our culture and ultimately the ability to live and share our faith in Jesus Christ. If our fellow believers do not think this will affect them, their families, their churches and their businesses, their head is in the sand,” Sears wrote.
“While it is important to consider some of the possible Y2K [potential computer malfunction] implications we may have in 2000,” he continued, “let us not lose focus on the biggest threat to our way of life. While I do not yell ‘the sky is falling,’ the ramifications of many Y2K issues will be minor compared with the havoc same-sex marriage and the ‘new family’ will wreak on our nation and world. Just for one example, think what happens when the state grants a license to these alternative forms of marriage and the public schools then, as they must, teach that all forms of sexual union are equally valid, and it becomes criminal, as it will, to ‘discriminate’ in preference of God’s plan for marriage.”
“I sympathize with people who are caught in homosexual lifestyles,” the ERLC’s Duke reflected. “It’s necessary for us to communicate to homosexual persons that we do not hate them but that in fact we love them. We love them enough to tell them they’re wrong. It’s not my desire to destroy their lives, but to help them adopt a lifestyle that is healthier both for them and for society.”