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Can The 28th Amendment Defining Marriage Save Our Society?

July 21, 2001

Let us start this discussion with a question: What is the basic unit, or building block, of our society? If you believe, as I do, that it is primarily marriage, and secondarily the family, then you will support the proposed 28th Amendment to The United States Constitution. It reads, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

Why is our society in danger? And why do we need an amendment defining marriage?

To understand the problem, we need to first understand how laws are created. We often hear that our country’s laws are based in large part on English Common Law. This is true, but where did Common Law originate? Liberal law professors will tear their hair out over this, but a basic knowledge of history combined with a little common sense will tell you that England’s laws could only have come from one source- the Bible. In some societies it is socially acceptable to kill (and even eat!) other people. The English knew this was wrong because the Bible said so. Other laws against theft and adultery were likewise derived from the Word of God. English Common Law was very clear about what constituted marriage: "Marriage includes the reciprocal duties of husband and wife."

Why then did our Founding Fathers, who showed such great wisdom and foresight in a multitude of other areas, neglect to define marriage in this way in the Constitution? For the same reason that they didn’t state that incest was wrong. Some things were just understood. Fathers didn’t marry their daughters. Women didn’t marry women. Up until twenty years ago no one questioned what a marriage was. Everyone understood that it was the union of a man a woman. It was that simple.

What is the danger to our society? If the foundation of our society is the marital relationship, then we are in big trouble. This is not just about same-sex marriages, although homosexual activists are the main forces attacking the traditional understanding of marriage. If our nation decides that marriage is NOT the union of one man and one woman, we open a Pandora’s box. First would come same-sex marriages. If you think we have a high divorce rate among heterosexual married people, look at the revolving door relationships that are common in the homosexual community. It is not uncommon for lesbians and homosexuals to have dozens of "committed relationships" in their lifetimes. The legal costs alone would be staggering.

The other prospect is even more troubling. If we open up the definition of marriage, what is to stop three, four, or even a dozen people from suing for the right to be "married"? Imagine the child custody battles, the little lives torn apart as some judge decides which of the various "parents" will have custody on different days. What about the corporation with a great medical plan that suddenly finds a covered employee "married" to four people? If you think medical insurance costs are high now, wait ’til that happens.

Why is a Constitutional Amendment the only answer to this dilemma? Why not simply pass State laws defining marriage in the traditional sense, as some States have already done? The problem is two-fold.

First is the "Full Faith and Credit" language of the Constitution that requires each State to recognize one another’s "public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings." Remember that, as a Republic, our fifty States are actually Sovereign Nations with the right to enact their own laws. On July 1, 2000, a Vermont law that allowed same-sex "civil unions" went into effect. In the first six months alone over 3000 lesbians and homosexuals took advantage of the situation. Only about 10% of them lived in Vermont. You can be sure that the other 90% didn’t travel all the way to Vermont for the scenery. We can expect a flurry of court challenges in the "couples" home states to try to force recognition of these Vermont ceremonies.

The second problem is that more and more laws are being created by judges. The U.S. Constitution, as well as the Constitutions of every one of the fifty States agree that legislatures make laws, and judges interpret them. However, as more and more liberal activist judges are elected or appointed, they are finding sly ways to get around the Constitution and legislate from the bench. Every victory for same-sex marriages, including the one in Vermont, has come from liberal judges or justices. Every defeat has come from the people, the vast majority of whom oppose anything but a traditional definition of marriage. This is why a Constitutional Amendment is the only logical strategy. It will stop cold these judges who are trying to subvert the legislative process.

A quick review of the three key states in this drama will show the wisdom of this approach. In 1993 the liberal Supreme Court of Hawaii decided that the State’s law on marriage "discriminated on the basis of sex." The people of Hawaii said, "No way!" and passed a Constitutional Amendment affirming heterosexual marriage by a margin of almost 70%! In Alaska, it wasn’t the Supreme Court, but a puny little trial judge that forced the State to pass a similar Amendment (by a margin of 68%!). He said that the State’s Constitution conferred a fundamental right to "choose a life partner." There is something very wrong when a local judge has the power to ignore the traditions and values of the vast majority of the citizens and substitute his warped view of society for theirs.

Vermont was more difficult, because its laws make it almost impossible to amend its Constitution. In 1999 their Supreme Court decreed that their Constitution required that the State either give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or give them essentially the same rights as married couples. Lawmakers, ever sensitive to the desires of the majority, chose the latter course. The "civil union" they were forced to enact by the Vermont Supreme Court stops short of being a marriage, but gives special status and rights to these couples.

I am not ready to declare a "Red Alert" just yet. We have time to organize and let our Senators and Congressmen know that we demand the 28th Amendment. The "Defense of Marriage Act" bought us that time. Reluctantly signed into law by our dearly departed Ex-President (I love to say that!), Bill Clinton, the Act defines marriage for Federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman. In this instance it abrogates the "Full Faith and Credit" provision by saying that no State is required to recognize another State’s same-sex marriages. Consistent with our Republican form of government, it leaves to the individual States the right to pass laws regarding matters of marriage and family. This means that each State can choose whether to allow same-sex marriages, and whether they will recognize such unions formed in other Sates. As of this writing, 34 States have passed laws that forbid recognition of same-sex marriages formed in other States.

But the "Defense of Marriage Act" has only bought us time. It has not solved the problem. Homosexual activists and liberal legal groups are already hard at work trying to have the Act declared unconstitutional. (This underscores the importance of knowing the philosophies of the local judges you elect, as well as those of your federal legislators who will decide on the appointments of federal judges and justices.) We are also faced with the prospect of same-sex couples immigrating from abroad. The Netherlands (Holland) recently became the first nation to recognize such marriages.

Ultimately, our society’s only defense against this attack on its very foundation is to rectify our Founding Fathers’ omission. We must pass a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage in the same way as has every society from the beginning of time. Nature itself teaches us that the union of one man and one woman is the way that things are intended to be. That’s why God created Adam and Eve instead of Adam and Steve.

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Copyright ©2001 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

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