National Catholic Register

News

2007: Is Marriage Defense on the Rocks?

Jan. 2, lawmakers in Massachusetts advanced a referendum that would let voters define marriage on the 2008 ballot.

BY GAIL BESSE

REGISTER CORRESPONDENT

February 4-10, 2007 Issue | Posted 1/30/07 at 10:00 AM

 

BOSTON — Defense of marriage supporters were buoyed early in the year by an unexpected victory in Massachusetts, the only state to allow same-sex “marriage.”

An attempt to restore legal protection there cleared one hard-fought hurdle Jan. 2, when lawmakers advanced a referendum that would let voters define marriage on the 2008 ballot.

The pace of legislative activity nationwide is expected to slow in this off-election year. But homosexual advocacy groups do have a plan. They intend to press their cause and reframe the concept of family by swaying public opinion, according to their statements.

Ronald Lee has an insider’s perspective of the homosexual lifestyle and its subcultures. “The public’s been sold a mirror image,” said the 45-year-old Catholic convert who chose chastity after 20 years in the lifestyle.

He advised those defending marriage to improve their odds of success by shifting the focus of debate.

“Don’t talk in an abstract way. Ask questions. Make people talk about what it really means to be a homosexual,” he said in a recent interview from his Houston home.

He predicted the “facade of respectability” cannot continue indefinitely, but said, “Between now and the long run, a lot of innocent people are going to suffer.” He warned marriage defenders not to allow the consequences of homosexual sex to be ignored, like the “elephant in the living room.”

Lee’s powerful testimony is detailed in his autobiographical article, “The Truth Behind the Homosexual Movement,” which is linked on the website of MassResistance.org, a Massachusetts pro-family group. His article originally ran in the February 2006 edition of the New Oxford Review.

“The unhappiness so common among homosexuals is swept under the carpet, while fanciful and unrealistic ‘role models’ are offered up for public consumption,” Lee wrote.

Without the image of “respectability and the appearance of normalcy that homosexual activists have projected, he concluded, “we would not now be engaged in a serious debate about the legalization of same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Since the November elections, 41 states now have marriage protection statutes, 27 of them in the form of constitutional amendments.

Pressure, Not Principle

The Massachusetts victory in January surprised homosexual activists, who had lobbied since 2002 to kill this and an earlier amendment. But intense grassroots pressure, coupled with two lawsuits — one for punitive damages — and an eventual mandate from the state Supreme Judicial Court, finally forced the Legislature to act on it, just hours before the clock would have run out on its chances.

This unexpected outcome evidently took the national homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign off-guard. Massachusetts is listed as a 2006 “victory” in its national legislative report issued Jan. 23. Questioned on the validity of this claim, Human Rights Campaign’s State Legislative Director Carrie Evans said that because the state marriage amendment had not advanced as of Dec. 31, it was claimed as a failure-to-pass measure.

The 11th-hour vote was “a victory for moral sanity and constitutional government,” said C.J. Doyle, director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

But, he noted, “Pressure, not principle, is what motivated many of our legislators to finally do the right thing. This battle will now be re-fought, perhaps with even greater intensity, over the next two years.”

Noting the issue’s national significance, opponents will continue to target the measure, which must pass a second hurdle this year.

Nationwide, state marriage defenders are in various stages of planning for 2008, according to Glen Lavy, Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel. An Arizona-based religious liberty advocacy group, Alliance Defense Fund maintains DOMAwatch.org, an informational website on Defense of Marriage Acts (see graphic).

Spokesmen for national homosexual advocacy groups downplayed their 2006 referendum defeats and highlighted their election gains. They predicted they would win “hearts and minds” by increased on-message visibility in courts, state capitals and within communities.

“Family Pride will continue to tell the stories of families all across this country who face the extra challenge and burden of being a same-sex couple raising children,” said Jennifer Chrisler, a Washington, D.C.- based group whose public relations methods include hosting house parties and training speakers.

Meanwhile, a new document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stresses the need for Catholics to receive clear and orthodox instruction on God’s gift of human sexuality. “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” issued Nov. 14, points out that everyone is called to live chastely.

“In addition to the legislative efforts to prevent the legalization of same-sex ‘marriages,’ we need to take a good, hard look at heterosexual marriage,” said Pia de Solenni, a moral theologian in Washington, D.C. In a recent interview she noted the widespread acceptance of contraception and no-fault divorce, concluding, “If we want to maintain the integrity of marriage, then we have to live it.”

Gail Besse is based

in Boston, Massachusetts.