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Californians, Take a Lesson from Nebraska

May 26, 2008

Watching another hijacking of the people's will, this time by four arrogant judges on the California State Supreme Court, one cannot help but contemplate the future of the institution of marriage in America. In case you missed it, that august body has invented a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, thereby reversing a ballot initiative approved by 61 percent of the voters.

All this contemplation brought me back to a column I wrote in 2004 about the courageous woman behind Nebraska's Initiative 416.

In 2000, Guyla Mills had already served for several years as the executive director of the Nebraska Family Council, a statewide organization committed to preserving the traditional family in an increasingly hostile public policy environment.

Guyla defended the sanctity of innocent human life, was an advocate for neglected and abused children, pointed out the folly of legalized gambling, no-fault divorce and lax enforcement of drug and alcohol laws. But perhaps most passionately of all, she defended the institution of marriage.

Armed with her faith in God and the people of Nebraska, in the spring of 2000 Guyla Mills initiated a petition drive to put the toughest Defense of Marriage Amendment in the country on the ballot statewide - and Initiative 416 was born.

Because of her political savvy and her grasp of the language, Guyla understood that the amendment had to protect marriage from legal counterfeits as well as from an outright change in definition. Therefore, she insisted that the language be written as follows:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. 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 Nebraska."

The incensed homosexual special rights lobby generated a predictable level of malicious vitriol, most of it aimed directly at Guyla Mills. In an avalanche of lies, she was falsely accused of exactly what her opponents were spewing forth: hatred. But on Election Day 2000, despite an unprecedented assault from the Left, Nebraskans approved the measure to amend the state constitution by a margin of 70 percent of the vote.

Guyla Mills is one of the least judgmental people I have ever met. Those of us who know her understand that to accuse her of hatred is like calling Mr. Rogers a serial killer. It is simply absurd, and it is the last refuge of anarchists who would tear down our most cherished institutions for the sake of a radical social agenda that has never been endorsed by any civilization in the history of the world.

There have never been restrictions on allowing two people, regardless of their relationship, from setting up legal avenues for hospital visits, last wills and testaments, etc. That is a red herring thrown into the issue to persuade those who want to preserve traditional marriage to acquiesce to the idea of domestic partnerships. But marriage by any other name still weakens the institution.

Guyla Mills knew that, and she beat the anarchists at their own game - in the court of public opinion. As Californians contemplate a constitutional amendment to protect marriage and to slap down their overreaching courts, they would do well to look at Initiative 416 in the State of Nebraska, and to the vision of a woman with the mind of a military strategist, the soul of a patriot and the heart of a missionary. The language of the Nebraska amendment may be harder to pass in California, but it is still the right language.

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Copyright ©2008 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.