National Catholic Register

News

Marriage Wins Big

BY ROBIN ROHR

REGISTER CORRESPONDENT

November 16-22, 2008 Issue | Posted 11/11/08 at 9:15 AM

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Election Day brought in a trifecta of wins for marriage. In three states, voters ratified constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Floridians in favor of marriage garnered an overwhelming 61.9% of the ballots cast, Arizona answered Yes at 56%, and citizens in California passed their proposition with 52% of the vote.

In Connecticut, a ballot question proposing a constitutional convention was a vote for marriage for some. After the state’s high court ruled in favor of same-sex “marriage,” this vote was seen as a step in a multi-step strategy that would allow for citizen action. But teachers’ unions saw the vote as a threat for unrelated reasons, and the question failed with only 39% support.

“We won in Arizona, Florida and California,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. “It was a landslide, a landslide in favor of marriage propositions in both red and blue states.

“Our opposition tries to characterize our position as limited to the ‘Bible Belt,’ but we have shown, again, that we can win in the blue states.”

As Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, emphasized, “We beat it in a liberal state, California, during a national election that brought us the most liberal president-elect in our history, with the state’s governor, both U.S. senators, the Hollywood elite, Silicon Valley and the city of San Francisco all aligned against the marriage proposition.”

Said George, “This election was tailor-made for them to beat the pro-marriage amendment. But, they couldn’t beat it. The people are still pro-marriage.”

Concurring with the broad support for traditional marriage, Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, said, “When it comes to marriage, there is no difference between red and blue states. The people have shown they do not want the government imposing a morality based on using bigotry and hatred towards religious persons.”

Gallagher continued, “This was a great victory to protect marriage and the family.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Marriage and Family Life. “The efforts of the USCCB are ongoing to advocate and educate the people of the United States to impress that maintaining the traditional definition of marriage is important,” he said. “I am pleased to hear that Florida, Arizona and California did uphold this definition in their vote.”


What Happens Now?

“The strategy of the forces to destroy marriage laws is to use a foothold in one state to force their agenda on the country through the federal courts,” said Daniels. “Thanks to Massachusetts, California and Connecticut, they have gained that foothold.”

As Daniels explained, “Activists will use Connecticut or California same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses to file federal challenges in liberal states where they can get a positive ruling. In the near future, we will see federal court action.

“This election proves,” Daniels observed, “once again how unpopular their agenda is, because they need the court to do their bidding against the will of the people.”

Gallagher foresees a regional change of focus. “The battle will now shift to the Northeast in New York, New Jersey, and in a few years, Rhode Island,” she said.

“It is no longer ‘live and let live,’” she warned. “Government is imposing a new morality, and Catholics, Christians and others will be treated as the equal of racists if we don’t agree. The argument being used against us is that our religion is bigotry, and we will be treated as bigots to marginalize and oppress our moral values.”

However, fighting court actions is not the only option.

George believes the new phase in the battle will be in the legislatures of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

“In the Northeast, there is no referendum process like California,” he said, “so the fight will be legislatively and to get pro-marriage politicians elected in the district races.”

Regarding possible court actions, George opined, “Looming here is also the U.S. Supreme Court that may intervene and create a federal issue. However, they may not because of the mistake they made in Roe v. Wade and igniting the culture war.”


The Fight Continues

Archbishop Kurtz said Catholics should build on these victories to change more hearts about marriage.

“My work with the bishops’ conference is to be aware of misunderstanding tolerance,” he said. “The bishops need to articulate the dignity with which we hold every human being and defend marriage. To see it as [a choice between] laws or individual conversion of heart implies separate directions. No law will lead to this conversion. However, just laws promote a sound culture where a conversion of the heart can take place.”

Gallagher agreed. “The challenges ahead are ongoing and need new strategies,” she said. “Our faith is being put at odds with our democracy and government. This will be the first time in America where good people will have to choose between being a good citizen or being Catholic. What we need is to find and organize people who care about marriage and religious faith.”

Princeton’s George said, “California shows the importance of unity among Catholics, evangelical Protestants and the Mormon Church [LDS]. When the leadership of the LDS joined with Catholic bishops and pastors like Rick Warren, they built a solid coalition. If you break that coalition, we can’t win. Together we can’t lose.”

What’s next? “Pro-marriage people need to contribute,” said George. “We need to care more, donate more money and more time than the same-sex movement. This will determine who will win.”

Robin Rohr is based

in Willits, California.