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The battle for marriage continues


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It is good news that gay rights activists are suing the Massachusetts Attorney General to block the ballot petition that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the Massachusetts Constitution. It is a clear sign of growing unease in their camp.

And for good reason. They must be realizing that, if the people get the final say, there is a very good chance that the constitutional amendment will pass. In fact, every time a similar question has made it to the ballot in any state — either conservative or liberal — the people have voted to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) claim in their lawsuit that the Constitution prohibits the use of a citizen-initiated ballot petition “when it relates to the reversal of a judicial decision.” Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly dismissed that claim months ago, when the same group raised it back in September in an effort to convince the attorney general not to certify this question for the ballot.

At the time, Peter Sacks, deputy chief of the Attorney General’s Office in a letter to GLAD explained the reasoning behind the decision: “The Supreme Judicial Court has clearly ruled that that phrase in art. 48 was used in a very special and limited sense, to refer to proposals relating to the ‘recall’ [emphasis in original] of judicial decisions... But ‘recall’ is very different from the process of actually amending the words of [the] constitution, as the advocates of recall themselves recognized. Amending the words of the constitution does not require the people to say that a court’s decision was wrong and should be ignored. Instead, it changes the rules to be applied by the court so that future cases will turn out differently.”

Sacks continued, “The Convention debates show that the drafter just as clearly meant to allow initiative petitions to amend the words of the constitution in response to a court decision finding a law constitutional.”

Indeed, the ballot petition is not trying to reverse a judicial decision. If the amendment initiative is successful, all the currently existing same-sex marriage licenses would continue to be valid, as the language of the proposed amendment clearly states: “When recognizing marriages entered into after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage only as the union of one man and one woman.”

Maneuverings on the part of same-sex marriage supporters to prevent a vote on the definition of marriage are not new. As the signature-gathering campaign was launched back in September, accusations of fraud in the process quickly appeared. Meanwhile petition signers were told by the organizers of the Web site KnowThyNeighbor.org, “Sign and you’ll be online.” Despite claims that the site’s purpose is to encourage “dialogue” it was an obvious attempt to intimidate petition signers.

These tactics show the true face of a small, yet powerful, lobby that is trying to impose their sectarian views of sexuality as they fight to gain societal recognition of their lifestyle choices.

Marriage is a societal institution primarily intended for procreation and the rearing of new generations. Same-sex unions are inherently sterile. The state may consider their sexual activity proper or improper, but it has no cause to give special benefits to such relationships.

Marriage is not a civil right, but a well-defined contract not open to any group of people just because they can form a stable and loving partnership. A brother and a sister cannot marry. Three individuals (of any gender) cannot marry. A mother and a son cannot marry.

This attempt to derail the ballot initiative is just a minor hurdle on the way to the November 2008 referendum. Others will appear, but our hope is that the voice of the people will ultimately be heard. That will be the final test, and when the moment arrives we are hopeful that the people, beyond religious or political affiliations will affirm marriage as a foundational institution that deserves protection and support. After all, we are all born from a mother and a father.

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