WASHINGTON – With less than two weeks remaining before the Federal Marriage Amendment hits the Senate floor, Christian and pro-family groups are creating a "groundswell of support" for traditional marriage among pastors and conservative churchgoers.
The Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has dubbed June 4 "Marriage Protection Sunday," and is requesting pastors to preach about gay marriage and encouraging Southern Baptists to tell their senators to vote for the amendment.
"Supporters of traditional marriage need to bombard their senators’ offices with e-mails and phone calls," ERLC President Richard Land told Baptist Press, "and preachers across America need to let the pulpit ring forth in clear and no uncertain terms on Marriage Protection Sunday, June 4, and help create a groundswell of support for this amendment.
"I can assure you the opponents of traditional marriage are doing their best to let their voices be heard in the corridors of the Senate. It is up to us to let our voices be heard loudly as well," he said.
The 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention is among a host of familiar players in the same-sex marriage debate that has amplified the voice of "values-voters" in Washington. The denomination is working with a powerful pro-marriage amendment coalition that includes groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council to foster support for the Senate resolution through mass-mailing, conference calls, and internet outreaches.
The Washington-based Family Research Council has already collected nearly 38,000 names in an online petition calling on U.S. Senators to preserve traditional marriage in America. The group hopes to gather 50,000 names by the week of June 5, when the Senate is slated to take up the measure.
Meanwhile, Focus on the Family Action has promoted a postcard campaign to get pastors involved in the effort. James Dobson, chairman of FOFA, joined with the Southern Baptist’s ERLC in sending an Apr. 12 letter to mobilize 43,600-plus Baptist churches around the issue.
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in that state in 2004, pro-family leaders rallied for a national constitutional amendment that would protect traditional marriage in other states and overturn the notorious Massachusetts court decision.
They warn that without such an amendment, states would be powerless to protect its laws from being overturned by "activist judges." They also call the issue "the most important" in the effort to protect families and preserve God’s will for mankind.
"Very few issues threaten the foundation of our culture as deeply as the same-sex marriage issue," a statement from the ERLC read. "Help preserve God's design for marriage in the United States by supporting the Marriage Protection Amendment."
Some recommendations for Marriage Protection Sunday include preaching about the issue on June 4 and distributing information on same-sex marriage. Lay Christians are encouraged to email, call, or hand-deliver mail to their senators, telling their representatives to pass the amendment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on May 18 approved the Marriage Protection Amendment in a 10-8 party-line vote. The Senate is slated to discuss the amendment on June 5, and will likely vote on it by June 6 or 7.
Ratification of an amendment to the Constitution requires passage by two-thirds of both the Senate and the House, as well as approval by three-fourths of the states.
Neither houses of Congress came close to a two-thirds majority when a similar amendment was placed on the floor in 2004. Traditional marriage supporters are hoping that the new Republican-majority Congress will garner enough votes to pass this time around.
"We certainly don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t have more votes this time than last time," Duke Barrett, vice president of the ERLC told BP. "The Senate is decidedly more conservative, certainly more Republican, than it was the last time. We believe that if enough senators hear from their constituents, the MPA can be passed.
"It’s obvious that a significant majority of Americans throughout the country do not want same-sex marriage," he said. "If that significant majority will communicate their convictions to their senators, the amendment should be passed."