Pro-family groups are split on the new wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), presented Monday by Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), which allows for civil unions. Some say the new wording will help the amendment win more supporters from the Senate while other pro-family leaders say the new wording does nothing to protect traditional marriage but only its name.
Family Research Council, which recently received Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, original sponsors of the FMA at its annual briefing in Washington, is fully supporting the new version of the amendment.
The difference in the new version of the FMA is the omission of “nor State or Federal law”, giving leeway for states to allow civil unions.
However, there are groups who support the FMA but are displeased with the last-minute word-tweaking.
Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America said that at least in the original version of the FMA, “unmarried couples or groups” would not receive benefits but in the new version “legal incidents of marriage” on any human union even if they are unmarried would be granted benefits.
But CWFA's spokesperson objects to it as well. "It's wrong for government to sanction and benefit unmarried relationships, 'gay' or straight, whether it's done by a court or a legislature," she says.
Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, also objects to the so-called sharpened amendment which now reads, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of a man and a woman. 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."
Knight believes the first sentence of the former version would be better than the changed one because it would “do no harm". Under the current version, traditional marriage would not be protected rather "the erosion of marriage" would persist through the legalization of civil unions.
As an editor for the Los Angeles Times for a number of years, Knight knows the art of semantics and wants the FMA to do more than protect the word “marriage” but also the essence of the word.
"Whether you call other relationships 'Quasi Marital Schemes' or 'Civil Unions,' when they're recognized in law no differently from marriage, all you've protected is the name," he says.