The future of marriage

Today, Jean and Prentice discuss the future of marriage. Previously they debated the impact of same-sex marriage on religion and government, social ramifications, rapid shifts in public opinion and the campaign for a marriage amendment to the California state constitution.

Long-term effects By Ron Prentice

Thus far, 27 states have legally protected marriage between a man and a woman. The people have spoken with strong majorities, and even in California research shows that the numbers exist to successfully place the language of the Proposition 22 statute into the constitution. As our dialogue has shown, emotions are high. But this decision is about more than emotion.

Children need a mother and a father. Few people argue this point, and many people disregard it. The protection of marriage as an institution limited to a man and a woman will only help to ensure that children are given the best environment for their upbringing. When this truth is trivialized, then society will suffer. And Lorri, when I refer to "society," I am not referring to tomorrow, as it seems you are. I am referring to the next generations.

You have referenced several countries that have recently legitimized homosexual marriage, and you have informed me that the sky has not fallen since. The ramifications of the redefinition of marriage to include two people of the same sex will be revealed over time, especially as we observe children and their development.

Across centuries, the most effective institutions to assist government in the management of social order have been marriage and the family. Now, with the intensifying battle over marriage's meaning and purpose, social order truly has come to a crossroad, and what marriage looks like in 20 years is in the hands of several entities: the courts, the people, and the churches.

The homosexual lobby knows that it cannot achieve legitimacy by a vote of the people. It has been in the courts where they have found the greatest level of success. Lorri, you referenced the Constitution on Monday, suggesting that we need to leave it alone and not "tinker" with it. But the legal advancement of homosexual rights is precisely due to the "progressive" re-interpretation of the Constitution's original intent. The "separation of church and state" — though not in the U.S. Constitution — has been completely re-defined from its original intent, resulting in an obsession with individual rights. The courts are the homosexual lobby's best friend, but I thank God for legal organizations that exist for the purpose of defending religious liberty. There is an ever-increasing record of court decisions that uphold religious liberty over sexual liberty.

The churches need to step up to the plate. That is critical for the protection of marriage. Fortunately in California, we are seeing more and more pastors recognize their role in this debate, to educate those they shepherd with a biblical worldview. The Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, is calling its people to orthodoxy, which includes the protection of the sacrament and institution of marriage. I don't believe that California will sustain its protection of marriage's traditional definition without the Church's involvement.

This really is about what is best for society and society's children. It is not only about a religious rite for romantic commitment. It is about lasting commitment, fidelity and monogamy. And it is worth protecting.

Ron Prentice is the chief executive officer of the California Family Council, which is dedicated to the protection and promotion of Judeo-Christian principles in California's culture. CFC has offices in Riverside and Sacramento.

More states will follow By Lorri L. Jean
Well, Ron, you and I do agree about a couple things. This issue is about more than emotion and yes, gay and lesbian people do want more than just the freedom to legally marry. We want nothing less — or more — for ourselves and our families than full and equal protection under the law, just like every other American. We don't want our bosses to be able to fire us because of our sexual orientation. We want to be protected from brutal hate crimes. We want to be able to honorably serve our country in the military.

Groups like yours, ostensibly pro-family and claiming to be doing God's work, want more too. You're not just committed to stopping the freedom to marry. You want to take away whatever limited protections and rights we already have.

You haven't been completely honest, Ron. In your statement last Monday you defended one of the proposed constitutional amendments by saying that gay and lesbian couples already have domestic partnership rights. But you didn't admit that opponents of the freedom to marry in California have already filed a ballot measure with the secretary of state to not only prohibit same-sex marriage but to repeal all domestic partnership benefits. This constitutional amendment, which would take away even such humane protections as being able to visit one's partner in the hospital, is the one you really want to pass. You don't mention it because it reveals your true extreme intent.

Since there is no rational defense for opposing marriage for same-sex couples, you talk about procreation and child rearing — but straight couples who don't intend to or can't have kids can get married. Plus kids of gay parents also benefit from the stability and dignity that marriage can provide. What children really need are love, devotion, patience, discipline and respect, regardless of the gender or number of their parents. You ignore these truths, just as you ignored my sincere invitation to come and meet the real families who would suffer under your constitutional amendments.

Instead you criticized me Thursday for not responding to your so-called "concrete evidence" about "homosexuals." What "evidence"? Your statement on Wednesday links to a report by an executive with the most well funded anti-gay organization in the country and to a web page with reports that are not only irrelevant but contradict each other! Shamefully, you also resorted to the outrageous canard that what gay people really want is sex with children, citing as "proof" an obscure 35-year-old document about unequal age of consent laws.

So what will the next 10 years bring? Think about the last 10 years as an example. Ten years ago, all loving same-sex couples were denied the freedom to marry. Today marriage is legal for same sex couples in Massachusetts and in countries around the world. This is happening because governments no longer want to hurt and exclude their gay and lesbian citizens from a basic human right like the freedom to marry and because public opinion has evolved.

More states will follow Massachusetts' lead and legalize the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In many of those states where extremist groups were able to convince voters to make a premature, ill-informed choice to discriminate against their fellow citizens, those barriers will be overturned. Campaigns like Let California Ring will help to make this possible. At the same time, a growing number of states will enact broader domestic partnership rights and benefits. In none of these instances will the family-shattering results you have predicted come true, either in the short or long term.

Of course, groups like yours will continue to try to deny us equal rights, Ron. Millions of dollars will be spent on those battles rather than on fighting the real problems facing today's families, including poverty, hunger, and lack of healthcare. If you were truly interested in protecting families, those are just a few of the issues you'd choose to tackle, not whether two loving, committed adults of the same sex can marry.

Lorri L. Jean is the chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which is dedicated to caring for the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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