Pro-family Groups Battle Semantics in Constitutional Amendments

( [email protected] ) Mar 23, 2004 07:24 PM EST

To better ensure that the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) passes among Senators, original sponsor of the amendment Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) on Monday modified its wording so that it could clearly protect traditional marriage but allow for civil unions. However, pro-family groups remain dismayed as Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee—the first gate through which the amendment must pass--pushes to further transform the amendment to let states define marriages.

"I don't happen to agree with what he is proposing," Allard said of Hatch’s proposal at a Capitol press conference Monday.

The wording of both version of the FMA includes identical first sentences, which reads, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”

However, the new constitutional amendment omits the phrase “nor state or federal law” to state, “Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

The original version reads, “Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

The full Senate Judiciary Committee convened this morning at 10 AM to discuss the FMA.

The Family Research Council (FRC) is wary that during the Committee’s meeting this week Hatch will introduce what they called a “fraudulent amendment” which states, "Civil marriage shall be defined in each State by the Legislature or the citizens thereof. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require that marriage or its benefits be extended to any other union than that of a man and a woman."

The Hatch amendment would create such a chaotic “mishmash of state laws” that would result in the judicial system intervening and federal marriage laws being forcefully redefined to include same-sex benefits, said the FRC, who is pledging to fight the Hatch amendment.

A constitutional amendment must pass by two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, and then be ratified by legislatures in three-fourths of the states.

Already, pro-family advocates are fighting their own battles to preserve the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.

In California, Randy Thomasson, director of Campaign for California Families, is making a call to all Christians to take action against a bill, which argues for full benefits for same-sex couples, driven by homosexual assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco.

The only way the bill can be stopped in the State Assembly, according to Thomasson, is dependent on the Christian church. "The mayor of San Francisco has awoken a sleeping giant -- the Church," he says. "Now the Church must pick up its tools and get to work."

Thomasson said there is such darkness in society because the light -- which comes from the Church -- is not shining. He then reaffirms the unavoidable responsibility of the church to overturn the deterring situation.

He says, "We've got to be active and we have to be involved now. That doesn't mean sit there and speculate or be a spectator. It means not loving in words or tongue, but with actions and in truth, as the Bible says."