Four years ago, when Vermont came out for “civil unions,” the majority of Americans avidly opposed the idea. However, as the battle to protect traditional marriage took full force in recent weeks, Americans began reconsidering the issue they once solidly rejected.
The recent Gallup poll released on March 11 reflected this change; 54% of Americans now favor legalizing civil unions as an alternative to same-sex “marriage.” Just last year, 57% opposed it.
''People may be rethinking whether civil unions are a responsible alternative to gay marriage amid all the hullabaloo,'' says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
According to pro-family groups, the acceptance of civil unions is a direct effect of the public’s misunderstanding of the meaning of a civil union.
“Civil union is a gay 'marriage' by another name,” said Robert Knight, Director of the culture and family institute. “Americans don’t understand why civil unions pose just as great a threat as gay 'marriage.'”
“When they understand that this is a counterfeit marriage by another name they oppose it,” said Knight, a strongly rooted evangelical Christian. “Civil unions pose a danger to freedom and children, because they are posed on everyone in society.”
“By this I mean that the law requires everyone to affirm homosexuality,” continued Knight. “This puts God fearing people in the position of having to choose between God and Caesar.”
Churches also would be harmed should civil unions pass in the States.
“Civil unions also lead to the idea of civil marriage becoming all inclusive institution. While this may sound like it could keep everybody happy, it will ghettoize the church and it will push real marriage into a corner,” said Knight. “Churches eventually will be told that if they insist on limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, they will lose their tax-exempt status, because the religion of equality trumps real religious freedom in a system populated by liberal judges.”
Therefore, according to Knight, “states should strengthen their marriage laws to ensure that civil unions aren’t created.”
Additionally, Knight, one of the original drafters of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defines marriage as a union between man and woman for all federal purposes, called for a strongly worded constitutional amendment to protect marriage.
“We should move toward a constitutional amendment that protects marriage not only in name, but in essence,” said Knight. “We would favor strengthening the language of the current federal marriage amendment, because right now, it practically invites states to have civil unions.”
In terms of the current debate in Massachusetts, where legislators are scurrying to protect traditional marriage before May 17th, when the state clerks are set to issue licenses to homosexuals under the orders of the Masschusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Knight urged Governor Mitt Romney (R) to step in.
“Governor Mitt Romney has a wonderful opportunity to become a national hero. He could do this by ordering clerks not to issue same-sex marriage licenses on the grounds that the law has not been changed just because the Massachusetts Supreme judicial court said it didn’t like it. It is still up to the legislature to enact the laws,” said Knight.
Governor Romney, on March 11 said he approved of a proposed amendment put forward by Mass. House Speaker Thomas Finneran that proposed a full legal ban on gay marriage without mention of possible civil unions.
Since then, Finneran has teamed up with senate leader Robert Travaglini to sponsor an amenmdent that protects marriage that also creates civil union.
Pro-family groups are working to defeat that and to try to pass a clean amendment protecting marriage.