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October 2, 2004
Column #1,205 

                 Marriage: The Surprise Issue of 2004

For the first time in America's history, marriage is a major issue for debate in an election.  It is no coincidence that on the day of the first Presidential Debate, the House of Representatives  will vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA).

Anyone running for federal office must answer whether they support the MPA which states: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than that of a man and a woman."

The MPA will be debated Thursday, a day after I've written this column. While the Amendment will garner a majority of votes, it is not expected to get the two-thirds necessary to pass a Constitutional Amendment. 

However, those who vote against the Amendment are likely to find their constituencies quite unhappy. Polls show that two-thirds of Americans want marriage to remain one man, one woman. Those who vote wrong may lose in November, which will make it easier to pass the MPA in 2005.

Problem is that many judges do not agree.  Ever since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in May that gays have a constitutional right to marry, it was clear to marriage activists that  the issue will land at the U.S. Supreme Court. Therefore the U.S. Catholic Bishops, Southern Baptists, the National Association of Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (FRC) and others swung their support to passage of a constitutional amendment to prevent un-elected judges from defining the future of marriage.

However, when the U.S. Senate voted on the amendment in July, it failed to even get a majority. "The Senate's vote has left the future of marriage in the hands of un-elected judges, at least for the time being," said Tony Perkins, FRC President. "This was just round one in the debate over marriage and we now begin training for round two. Pro-family forces have benefited from the debate.

"Every time this issue is forced into the public square, the opposition to same-sex 'marriage' among the American public grows. We now know which Senators are for traditional marriage and which ones are not, and by November, so will the voters in every state."

Perkins was right. Opposition has grown so much that the House is expected to pass the amendment with a number of Democrats voting with Republicans, unlike the Senate.

The Massachusetts case has also stirred activity at the state level. In Oregon, the largest petition drive in history gathered 245,000 signatures to put the protection of marriage on the ballot next month as an amendment to the state's constitution. In Michigan 482,000 people took the same step. 

Gay activists diverted a similar drive in Missouri, and put the vote on the same day as a Democratic primary, thinking Democrats would defeat the constitutional amendment.  It passed with a 71 percent margin. A similar vote in Louisiana recently added one man, one woman to its constitution. Among other states which will vote on similar state amendments Nov. 2 are Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah and Montana.

"Marriage is in mortal danger," Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told 4,000 people in Shreveport, LA this week at a Stand for the Family rally. "Right now we are going to win or lose the battle for the family. I do believe that if we work together, we can save the family."

Gay activists often point to high divorce rates and claim that married couples fare little better than homosexuals with regard to the duration of their relationships. However, a federal study reports that 66 percent of first marriages last 10 years and half endure 20 or more years. By contrast, the 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census surveyed 7,862 homosexuals, and found that of those in a "current relationship," only 15 percent describe it as lasting 12 years or longer, with 5 percent lasting 20 years. 

Nor is fidelity part of homosexuality. One study found that only 4.5 percent of homosexual males in a current relationship were faithful vs. 85 percent of married females and 75 percent of married males.

Do you want to be part of this historic battle?

Join a million people gathering at the Washington Mall on October 15 from noon to 3 for a "Mayday for Marriage." Among the speakers will be Dr. Dobson, Tony Perkins and Chuck Colson.

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