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October 26, 2006
Column #1,313
Advance for October 28, 2006
New Jersey Court Backs Gay Unions
by Michael J. McManus

Two weeks before the election, polls suggest that Democrats are likely to take over the House by a substantial margin and to narrowly win control of the Senate.

Many argue that the most important issue in this election is Iraq. However, the decisive role on Iraq was taken by Bush, not the Congress. He's not up for reelection; but Congress is.
However, on Wednesday the New Jersey Supreme Court gave conservatives a new reason to go to the polls by ruling in a 4-3 decision that homosexual couples are entitled to "the full rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples."  It stated that the Legislature "must determine whether to alter the long accepted definition of marriage" to permit same-sex marriage as did Massachusetts or gay civil unions, with all benefits of marriage, as in Vermont.
The three justices who dissented did not support traditional marriage, but wanted to flatly endorse same sex marriage.  The majority of the court thought that should be left up to the Legislature.  This decision is, by far, the most liberal to be handed down by any court.

They only disagreed on whether to use the "M" word.
"This represents the state taking the future of marriage out of the hands of voters.  It is an usurpation of the right of the people to decide this question," asserted Matt Daniels of the Alliance for Marriage. "It's a repeat of what happened in Vermont. The people of New Jersey lose."

In sharp contrast with this court-dictated mandate that the Legislature require same-sex marriage or civil unions, the people of eight states can vote in November on constitutional amendments that would limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman: Virginia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.  Twenty states have already enacted similar amendments, usually by 2-1 or wider margins.

Polls show public support for the amendment by 73 percent in Tennessee, 54 percent in Virginia, 53 percent in Wisconsin, a bare 50 percent in Arizona.  South Dakota has polls showing both opposition to, and support of the amendment. 

However, past experience indicates that the very opportunity to endorse traditional marriage, attracts more conservative voters than expected, and passage by comfortable margins.

This history offers new hope for Republican Sen. George Allen in Virginia and Republican nominee George Corker in Tennessee with narrow polls leads and for New Jersey challenger Tom Kean, Jr. who is behind incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez.  It's the only state where a Democratic incumbent might lose.

The New Jersey case should motivate conservatives tempted to stay home out of disgust for Washington corruption, to get out and vote for pro-marriage Senators Santorum in Pennsylvania, Talent in Missouri, Burns in Montana and DeWine in Ohio who now lag behind Democratic challengers who support gay marriage.

All members of the House and Senate voted on the Marriage Protection Amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The House vote was 237-187 in favor, but not the two-thirds needed to amend the Constitution.  

Senate Democrats filibustered, insisting on a procedural vote to close debate requiring 60 of 100 votes.  Surprisingly, only 49 voted for cloture, though the Senate has 55 Republicans.
How did your Senator and Congressman vote on that issue, and on other pro-family  legislation?  To find out, go to FRCAction.org and click on Vote Scorecard.

The political arm of the Family Research Council and Focus on The Family released its Vote Scorecard on every member of Congress on seven or eight key votes over the past year.

In the Senate, the key issue this year was to confirm Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Democrats conducted a filibuster to block the confirmation. Majority Leader Bill Frist held a cloture vote to cut off debate that passed 72-25.  Alito was then confirmed by 58 to 42.

If Democrats take over the Senate, it is unlikely that a future Alito who believes judicial restraint will be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. 

What if the New Jersey decision is appealed to the Supreme Court?  The present court would vote 5-4 to uphold the court's judicial activism.

However, the public opposes gay marriage by a 58-39 percent Gallup Poll.  Among weekly church attenders, only 20 percent support same-sex marriage.

Will conservatives set aside the Iraq issue and the corruption of a few to support candidates in favor of traditional marriage?

If they don't mobilize - the Biblical idea of marriage will be trashed.
 
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