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Senate to Discuss FMA - Evangelicals Prepare Congregants for Battle

“We must all take action now to let our voices be heard resoundingly at the Federal level in Washington"
( [email protected] ) Jul 09, 2004 04:53 PM EDT

As the Senate begins the much anticipated debate over the federal marriage amendment (FMA) this weekend, Evangelical and pro-family leaders are encouraging Christians to let their voices heard by “contacting state representatives and voting – in mass.”

The Federal Marriage Amendment, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman only, has been at the forefront of a highly politicized debate over the “equal rights” of homosexuals.

Some 26 liberal religious groups – including over a dozen Christian mainline denominations – have rejected the FMA, saying that it "reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights and ignores differences among our nation's many religious traditions."

However, most evangelical groups, including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God (A/G), have realized the importance of protecting traditional marriage "for the society, for the church and for children," and have thus called on thier congregants to support the FMA.

"Only a relatively few years ago, having to define marriage as between a man and a woman only, would have been considered unconscionable," said A/G General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask on a July 9 statement. "But now, unless Christians take a stand and let their moral majority voice be heard, the Federal Marriage Amendment could very well be defeated."

In the past, many Christian leaders, in particular Evangelical leaders, have shyed away from politics because of the desire to separate church and state. However, after Massachusetts ruled in November 2003 to sanction gay “marriage” in the state, these same leaders have stood at the forefront of what they call one of the “last great battle” in America.

In lieu of this newfound activism, the A/G headquarters urged its individual leaders to “proactively educate their congregations about the consequences of the passing or failure to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

"Laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman have been enacted in 38 states, and many Christians believe that as long as their state has such a law they're safe," says A/G Legal Counselor Richard Hammar. "That's not true. One federal judge could overturn any of those state laws in a single decision by ruling that they unconstitutionally discriminate against homosexuals."

"However," Hammar added, "if the federal constitution is amended to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, then this would prevent activist state or federal judges from doing what happened in Massachusetts earlier this year. Further, such an amendment would immediately overrule any state decisions recognizing homosexual marriages."

The A/G also urged its congregants to pass similar versions of the FMA in their individual states.

"Here in the state of Missouri, we're voting on the Marriage Amendment in August," said Trask. "It's vital that the Missouri Christian community overwhelmingly shows its support for the amendment through our vote. However, as important as that vote is, we must all take action now to let our voices be heard resoundingly at the Federal level in Washington."

The NAE, a fellowship of some 50 million evangelicals from dozens of denominations, have also aggressively campaigned for the Amendment’s support.

On Sunday, July 11, the NAE, in conjunction with pro-family groups such as Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, will be endorsing the “Battle for Marriage – Imminent Vote Rally” broadcast. Sunday’s program, which will feature Dr. James Dobson and Chuck Colson among other renowned pro-family figures, will be the second in the “Battle for Marriage” series to be endorsed by churches nationwide this year.

Meanwhile, the senate will be taking up the issue on political grounds; several members of the senate have already expressed that “it’s all about politics.”

Still other politicians view the issue as “the ultimate culture battle.”

"We feel like marriage is under attack," DeLay, R.-Texas, said, according to the Associated Press. "Marriage is a spiritual bond between one man and one woman. I came to realize, in the end, we're going to have to do a constitutional amendment if we want to protect marriage."

The amendment is sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R.-Colo., and has 126 co-sponsors. In order for the amendment to pass, it must have the support of 2/3 of the legislature. Therefore, 67 of the 100 senators must pass the amendment and 290 of 435 house members must vote in favor of it.

Since the senate is more liberal than House, observers say the amendment is more likely to pass the latter. However, even if the Senate fails to pass the amendment initially, it would pre pressured to pass the legislation if the House passes it in coming months.

The senate Majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, set Tuesday as the final date to debate and Wednesday as the date to vote on the issue.

For more information on the “Battle for Marriage” broadcast, please visit: www.wevotevalues.com