Marriage mayhem multiplies across states
With Valentine’s Day positioned in the heart of February, the timeless value of building strong marriages has been, naturally, a major emphasis among the pro-family community during this second month of the year. Recently, family-supporting organizations even set apart Feb. 7-14 as National Marriage Week to highlight the importance of the God-ordained institution.
But as it turns out, this 29-day month in 2012 is, regrettably, proving to be more about extending legal recognition of marriage to same-sex couples than celebrating the one-man, one-woman marital bond itself. Viewed from a higher vantage point, a trio of actions helps to clarify more than initially meets the eye: an ongoing attempt to shout down the people, with the added effect, intentional or not, of infringing on religious liberty.
In rapid succession, three state legislatures—Maryland, New Jersey and Washington—have taken up bills to legalize same-sex “marriage” in their respective states. Two of the three states have been successful in approving their measures; the third is poised to quickly follow suit.
On Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Washington became the seventh state—along with the District of Columbia—to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Having obtained Gov. Christine Gregoire’s signature that day on the legislature-approved same-sex “marriage” bill, homosexual and lesbian couples could begin to “marry” as early as June in Washington.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, state lawmakers in New Jersey last week pushed through a bill to impose same-sex “marriage” on the Garden State. Thankfully, Gov. Chris Christie promptly took his veto pen to the legislation, as he had promised.
In nearby Maryland, however, defenders of traditional marriage may not be so fortunate. Presently, legislation to impose same-sex “marriage” on Marylanders is moving through the two legislative chambers at an accelerating pace. Last week, the House of Delegates—in whose hands the bill suffered a bruising defeat in 2011 thanks to an outpouring of opposition by local pastors and their churches—narrowly approved the measure. Then, on Tuesday, a Senate committee approved the measure 7-4, teeing up the measure for a full Senate vote as early as Thursday, with Gov. Martin O’Malley prepared to sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
What the public is witnessing here is nothing new. The string of actions in each of these states is simply a continuation of the distressing narrative playing out elsewhere on same-sex “marriage.” In all of the states, as well as in the District of Columbia, where such “marriages” have been legalized, the story reads the same: Either a legislature or a court decides in favor of same-sex “marriage”; the public then must live with it. In either case, elected officials or unelected judges have been the story’s author, the electorate forced to accept the script, happily or not.
But millions of voters are committed to writing the final verse. In both Washington and Maryland, efforts are already underway among supporters of traditional marriage to put the issue on the ballot. Washington citizens have until June 6 to collect 120,577 valid signatures in order to put a marriage referendum before voters in November; Marylanders have until June to collect 55,736 signatures to give voters a say to determine whether a new marriage law—if the current bill is in fact passed and signed—can take effect next January.
The two coastal states would join voters in Maine, Minnesota and North Carolina in deciding this year whether marriage remains defined as only between a man and a woman. If successful, all five states would enjoy plenty of company. In all, citizens in 31 states have voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. In every instance in which marriage has been put to the voters, traditional marriage has won the day.
Overshadowing the recent mayhem on marriage, the Obama administration’s mandate that nearly all private health insurance plans cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs has consumed most of the oxygen in the room. This is not without reason. It is a direct attack on religious freedom and a central concern of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Even so, marriage must not be forgotten.
Taken together, the expansion of marriage and the mandate on contraceptives strike the heart of religious freedom. On the former, the door opens for such things as rewriting children’s school textbooks to normalize same-sex “marriage,” requiring adoption providers to place children with same-sex couples and revoking licenses for marriage counselors who refuse to counsel same-sex couples—all in violation of millions of Americans’ religious convictions. On the latter, in a more direct assault on religious freedom, people of faith must violate their religious convictions on such things as abortion.
With both the states’ imposition of same-sex “marriage” and the federal government’s imposition of a contraceptives mandate as recent examples, the trend toward subverting religious freedom should distress every person of faith. Whether on civil marriage or on contraceptive mandates—and whether at the state level or the federal level—governing powers must not be permitted to have the final voice and run roughshod over the people.