Kentucky Christians Push Forward to Revive Same-sex Marriage Bill

( [email protected] ) Mar 29, 2004 11:09 AM EST

FRANKFORT – Constitutional amendments that would ban gay marriage have been defeated in two states, Kentucky and Minnesota.

In Kentucky, the Democrats and Republicans shared fierce argument that brought up tensions in the House and it ended up Republicans walking out of the meeting. In their absence, too few votes were available to pass the measure.

The controversial bill that House Democrats leaders had tried to disapprove, still could be revived in the final three days of the legislative session.

Frankfort churches, including religious advocacy groups are mobilizing congregations to continue pressure this week against same-sex marriage

The Family Foundation of Kentucky, a religious advocacy group, is calling for a rally of 10,000 gay-marriage opponents at the Capitol on Monday.

State Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, says churchgoers helped revive Senate Bill 245, a measure whose fate remains uncertain as lawmakers fight over its wording.

"The churches have really done a fantastic job of getting the word out," he said. "If the church people had sat on their hands, this bill would've been dead a long time ago."

In the past week, evangelical churches have urged their members to take a stand for traditional marriages, using the pulpit, prayer chains, e-mail, newsletters and the Sunday morning bulletin to rally support for SB 245, which would allow amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Many evangelicals view same-sex marriage as an attack on faith, family and the nation's moral foundations.

"If we don't stand on biblical principles and stand up for what's right, our society won't make it," said Sandra Bowman, a member of the Georgetown Homeschool Group and a constant presence at the capitol last week. "We want them to know we're not backing down and we're going to be here as long as it takes."

Prominent religious leaders are working to keep it alive.

Kentucky's Catholic bishops have called for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention, which backs a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, is urging people to call lawmakers.

At Southland Christian Church, the Lexington area's largest house of worship, pastor Jon Weece urged people to phone legislators and encourage them to support the amendment.

It's the first time Weece has spoken out about a piece of legislation from the pulpit, but he says too much is at stake to stay silent. "This is not a political issue, this is an issue of principle," Weece said. "We have to take a stand as believers to protect marriage."

Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, where 18,500 worship each week, sent hundreds of people to lobby the legislature.

It's the first time in the church's 40-year-history that it took such a step, said Southeast Christian spokeswoman Cindy Coffee.

But the church did it because the issue is so important, she said. "We believe that God has ordained marriage as the union of a man and a woman. If you had the marriage of same-sex couples, it would undermine the traditional family in our country."

"We're finally waking up and coming together to stand up when God's will is being attacked," said Terry Arthur, 41, from a church in Somerset.

While Catholics and evangelicals are speaking out, the Kentucky Council of Churches has remained silent.

"On the matter of sexuality, our member communions and congregations do not share a consensus of belief, doctrine, or opinion that the Council may articulate at this time," said Nancy Jo Kemper, the group's executive director. "Unless there is consensus, the Council may not speak or act on a matter, leaving it to the individual denominations to express their convictions."