by Mike McManus
March 4, 2009
Gay activists filed a suit this week challenging the federal definition of marriage, knowing that President Obama is sympathetic. Six same-sex couples and three men whose "husbands" died (including Rep. Gerry Studds) - argued that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) treated them as second-class citizens and is unconstitutional.
The Family Research Council led the battle to pass DOMA in 1996, signed by President Clinton, to protect states from being forced to recognize same-sex "marriages" performed in other states. It passed by overwhelming margins.
"Thirteen years later, however, it is increasingly clear that DOMA is in the cross-hairs of groups like Gays & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the plaintiffs, but also of President Obama who repeatedly has stated his support for "DOMA's total repeal," commented FRC President Tony Perkins.
"We even wonder if his Department of Justice will rigorously defend this federal law in this litigation," he added. Good question, because the law suit was filed in a federal court, where the normal defenders of present law are U.S. Attorneys appointed by the president.
Defenders of traditional marriage have taken heart from the fact that 30 states have passed constitutional amendments that limit marriage to a union of a man and a woman. Last fall on the same day Obama was elected, three states did so - Florida by a big 62 percent margin and Arizona, where it had failed once before.
Even liberal Californians who overwhelmingly supported Obama, voted by a 52-48 percent margin, for a Constitutional Amendment stating: "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
However, the margin narrowed from a 61% in favor in a similar 2000 referendum. Gays don't give up. After the Referendum passed in November, gays asked the California Supreme Court to overturn the second vote of Californians for traditional marriage.
What do the gays want? Social Security Benefits, for starters, if their partner dies.
The gays have learned that persistence is more important than the wisdom of bringing up children in homes with two homosexuals. A child deserves to be reared in a home with his married mother and father.
Gays can't be expected to understand that. But what about the churches? Surely, they appreciate the importance of heterosexual marriage.
Not Episcopalians, Presbyterians or Evangelical Lutherans.
Episcopalians elected an openly gay bishop named Vicky Gene Robinson, appointed gay clergy, married same-sex couples and now wonder why their church attendance is plummeting.
By how much? Average Sunday attendance was 880,000 in 2003 when Bishop Vicky was elected. That fell to 727,000 in 2008, a plunge of 150,000.
David Virtue (Virtueonline.org) reports that the new Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), organized last year with 100,000 ex-Episcopalians - could overtake The Episcopal Church (TEC) in size within a decade if TEC keeps losing at its current rate and if ACNA keeps growing at its current pace.
"The Episcopal Church is dying," he asserts.
Now the Presbyterian Church U.S.A (PCUSA). is debating a change in its constitution that presently requires all ordained people to "live either in fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness." A homosexual could be ordained, but would have to remain chaste under present law.
A massive debate on that issue is underway in each of America's Presbyteries, a majority of whom would have to vote to drop the "chastity in singleness" requirement if openly gay clergy are to be ordained. A similar vote was held in 2001, and was soundly defeated by 127-46.
However, gays persuaded PCUSA to reconsider. At present the Presbyteries' vote is 57-37 in favor of retaining the present standard. However, those numbers include 16 Presbyteries who switched their stand to favor the gay position. There are 70 more yet to vote which had close votes in 2001, so the gays could chalk up the 2.2 million member PCUSA as a victory.
The likely result? "There are congregations in the PCUSA for whom that would be a 'line in the sand,' a theological break that would result in their desire to explore joining another reformed denomination" such as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, says Rev. Carmen Fowler, editor of "The Layman," a conservative paper. Indeed 50 churches have switched already.
"Even if the change is turned down, the gay-lesbian lobby will view the closer margin of the vote as a victory," she adds.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America released a report last month asking its ELCA's 2009 Churchwide Asembly to reconsider its "Vision and Expectations" that homosexual clergy "abstain from homosexual sexual relationships."
Gays are on a roll.
----Michael J. McManus is a syndicated columnist writing about "Ethics & Religion" He is President & Co-Chair of Marriage Savers. He lives with his wife in Potomac MD.