This week, October 12th-18th, has been declared "Marriage Protection Week." According to the Family Research Council (www.frc.org) the project is the result of an attack on marriage by people who want to redefine what marriage is.
During the coming week and beyond the Family Research Council will be asking elected officials to not only support the proposed Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as "one man and one woman" but going beyond that definition.
It states the following:
I, ______________________ , pledge to the families of the state of ___________________ , and to all the American people that I will protect the inviolable definition of marriage. I firmly believe this definition is as follows:
Marriage, whether entered into within or outside of the United States, shall consist of the legal union of one man and one woman. Every person has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, subject to state laws based on age and consanguinity. The uniting of persons of the same or opposite sex in a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar relationship shall not be valid or recognized with any legal benefits or privileges in the United States.
President Bush has even signed a Proclamation officially recognizing the week. It reads in part:"We must support the institution of marriage and help parents build stronger families. And we must continue our work to create a compassionate, welcoming society, where all people are treated with dignity and respect."
How does preventing a civil union protect marriage? How does this help create a "welcoming society, where all people are treated with dignity and respect"?
The issue here is not protecting marriage. The real issue is intolerance. Many religions do not approve of same-sex marriage. And some people are unable to separate their religious beliefs from the legal aspects of civil marriage.
You see, the concept of civil marriage is to have a legally recognized, long term, committed, relationship with another person. To fully share in building a life. That is a concept which strengthens our communities. That is a concept which promotes families to adopt and provide quality homes for children. That is a concept which allows more than one thousand legal benefits according to the U.S. Government's General Accounting Office. Rights a married couples get with one piece of paper, but require same-sex couples spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and hundreds of hours in paper work to attain.
Same sex unions aren't the evil thing the Family Research Council, the President of the United States and Republican party would like to portray. They don't cause abortion or out-of-wedlock babies. They don't create increased welfare rolls. They don't prevent anyone else from getting married and loving each other. All they do is allow two people to share a life.
Certainly, many religions will not support same sex marriages. That is their right. But equally important is the right to have your relationship recognized by the governmental units of our country. Perhaps not with the word "marriage," but certainly with the equal opportunities of the legal benefits of marriage under local, state and federal law.
Before we go amending the Constitution to define marriage, perhaps we should reconsider Thomas Jefferson's advice: "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regime of their barbarous ancestors." (Words inscribed at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.)
Call it Civil Union. Call it Marriage. Call it whatever you like. But, to deny the civil rights of individuals because of individual religious belief goes against the basic concept of the U.S. Constitution. And to support a concept which goes against the U.S. Constitution...well...you can decide for yourself what that is.