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Jewish World Review Dec. 24, 2003 / 29 Kislev, 5764

Cal Thomas

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The future of marriage | After two decades of propaganda about homosexuality and the "gay rights" movement, including one-sided media presentations depicting gay as great with no downsides (other than "homophobia"), the common sense of the public still prevails. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll (Dec. 21), there is widespread support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would preserve marriage as a unique relational contract between a man and a woman. The poll, which found "unease" about homosexual relations in general, also discovered that many of those who have supported "gay rights" oppose same-sex marriage.

The numbers break down along religious and secular lines, with religious believers who oppose same-sex marriage supporting a constitutional amendment by a large margin and secularists, who favor "gay rights," opposing an amendment by not as wide a margin. Under 30s and "those who know gay people" are most supportive of allowing them to marry, according to the poll.

This ought to be good news for social conservatives. But infighting among members of various conservative religious and political organizations threatens to frustrate the effort to win passage of an amendment. At several recent meetings in the Washington area attended by leaders of social conservative groups, there were disagreements over the wording of the amendment and doubt about whether Congress would pass it.

The debate divides those who believe the amendment should outlaw "civil unions" and those who think both traditional marriage and civil unions can coexist.

One group of social conservatives prefers language contained in a Nebraska law: "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in the United States. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in the United States."

One of the conservatives who attended the Washington meetings, which, he says, included a strategy session at the White House, says his group is working on language similar to Nebraska: "Marriage in the United States shall consist of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall grant or recognize the legal status of a spouse to any person in a relationship other than marriage."

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My source says another leading pro-family advocate believes such a restrictive amendment will not pass. But the Times/CBS poll suggests otherwise. Favorable numbers exist even before the congressional debate has begun and prior to state legislatures having an opportunity to vote on an amendment. Such an amendment will be popular in most states where people have long wished they could have their say in place of unelected federal judges who force-feed them cultural pollutants. A majority of the public thinks traditional marriage is important enough to preserve as an ideal, no matter how many may fall short of it.

Most people would probably be happy to launch a counter strike in the culture war. Many could be counted on to support an amendment that tries to do something about the social, moral and cultural erosion over which they have felt powerless. Surrounded by bad television, worse movies, anti-religious attitudes of judges and certain liberal activist groups, a pervasive sense that "anything goes," most of those responding to the New York Times/CBS News Poll apparently find a constitutional amendment in support of marriage a much-needed line in the sand. They think we have already gone too far, too fast on too many things.

If conservative groups fail to rally around marriage as a core value of our society and nation, there will be little left for them to stand on when activist groups try to remove the few remaining foundational principles of our nation. And they will try.

Marriage has traditionally been a fundamental building block of all stable societies. When it is undermined - whether by heterosexuals or homosexuals - societies crumble.

People have many rights in our nation, including the right of consenting adults to live together. They do not have the right to demand society approve of any and every relationship and provide benefits reserved for married heterosexuals. A constitutional amendment defining marriage in the traditional way is worth fighting for. With public opinion on their side, conservatives and their unlikely allies should settle for nothing less.

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JWR contributor Cal Thomas is the author of, among others, The Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas Comment by clicking here.

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