A gift from the Lord for which I remain eternally grateful is my inherent optimism. I am blessed with a natural inclination to see the glass half full rather than half empty.
In this vein, I believe that, although the Senate’s vote this past week rejecting the federal Marriage Protection Amendment may be a battle lost, the prospects for long-term victory in the cultural war to preserve traditional values in America remain excellent.
The defeat of the marriage amendment flows from the reverence of Americans for our Constitution rather than support for endorsing homosexuality as an acceptable social norm. Furthermore, the arguments against the amendment are sufficiently weak and transparently false that over time more Americans will appreciate the need for this measure.
As many have noted, 45 out of 50 states already have enacted protections for traditional marriage, either through statute or constitutional amendment. Consistent with this, polls show Americans overwhelmingly opposed to legalization of homosexual marriage.
Support drops off, however, when the issue becomes amending the federal Constitution.
The reverence that Americans have for our Constitution is inherently good news. It is this attitude that distinguishes our country. Other nations write constitutions that wind up in the trashcan in short order. Ours stands as it does because Americans both love and understand the importance of freedom, and hold our national institutions in awe and respect that can only come from a truly religious people.
We relate to our federal Constitution as the unique and delicate document that it is. It takes a lot for us to approach it and tamper with it.
Americans don’t need convincing about the importance of preserving traditional marriage. They need more convincing that amending the federal Constitution to protect marriage would bolster our freedom rather than abridge it.
Clearly, this is going to take more time. More Americans need to appreciate that the liberal elite now controlling our courts, already overturning homosexual marriage bans passed by voters in five states, will ultimately do so at the federal level. As Judge Robert Bork and others have argued, the Defense of Marriage Act, which insulates states from having to recognize homosexual marriage legalized in one state, will inevitably be challenged and overturned by the Supreme Court.
Thus, without amending our federal Constitution, we are likely to be looking at national recognition of homosexual marriage.
It may well be that the reverence for our Constitution is so profound that even with a sense that there is a high probability that the Defense of Marriage Act will be found unconstitutional, Americans will not move to amending the Constitution until this actually happens.
This gets to my second point regarding my optimism.
Because Americans do want to preserve traditional marriage, the case seems compelling that a federal marriage amendment will be enacted if indeed the Defense of Marriage Act is negated by the Supreme Court.
The question remaining, then, is: Do we want to bear the costs of waiting until this happens?
The most simplistic argument made by opponents of the marriage amendment is that homosexual marriage legalization doesn’t threaten traditional marriage. According to Sen. Russell Feingold, for instance, “All over the country, married heterosexual couples are shaking their heads and wondering how exactly the prospect of gay marriage threatens the health of their marriages.”
What Feingold obfuscates is that this is as much about our future as our present. The erosion of tradition and gain in support for “alternate” lifestyles is among our youth. This directly flows from the environment in which these kids grow up and what they hear in the public schools they attend.
So what? Consider CNN anchor Lou Dobbs’ diatribe against the marriage amendment, calling it “sheer nonsense.” According to Dobbs, Republicans are playing politics with a “wedge” issue. Dobbs continues, “How can we tolerate elected officials who press wedge issues when 37 million people in the United States live in poverty?”
The black pastors from all over the nation who accompanied me to Washington last week to express support for the marriage amendment know that the large percentage of these poor Americans are black, who overwhelmingly live in broken families. Black homes with married husbands and wives earn on a par with white Americans.
The prodigious moral, social and economic costs of delay on taking action on protecting marriage will become increasingly clear. The same factors that cause some Americans to be skeptical of the marriage amendment will, I think, ultimately lead them to support it.
The issue is the cost of waiting. This could be helped with some courageous leadership in Washington – something all too rare these days.
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