On April 25th 2006, the Salt Lake Tribune has reported that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined a national religious coalition to push an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Click here to view the story.
Synopsis: Elder Russell M. Nelson (pictured above left), an Apostle serving on the church's Quorum of the Twelve, joined 50 prominent Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish leaders in signing a petition urging passage of such an amendment. Among the others were several Catholic cardinals (both liberal and conservative), and representatives of the Southern Baptist Convention, the conservative Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), and several Episcopal bishops. The LDS Church issued a statement acknowledging involvement but offered no further comment. Elder Nelson declined to be interviewed.
"We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society," reads the petition released to the public on Monday.
The organization in question is identified as the Religious Coalition for Marriage, organized by Matt Daniels, the founder of the Alliance for Marriage. The Alliance website has a copy of the petition which you can sign to urge Congress to enact this Amendment. Click here to access and sign petition.
Here is the text of the proposed amendment:
109th CONGRESS 1st Session
S. J. RES. 1 JOINT RESOLUTION
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:
`SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment'.
`SECTION 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union 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.'.
Proponents claim an amendment would immediately shut down all legal challenges to the existing legal definitions of marriage. However, opponents like Valerie Larabee of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Utah and openly-gay State Senator Scott McCoy criticized this new effort to amend the Constitution. Larabee is concerned that it might be the first time the Constitution would be used to take away rights rather than confer them. McCoy doesn't believe this effort will succeed and suggests we address higher priorities.
The petition drive was originally organized in part by Robert P. George of Princeton, a Catholic scholar with close ties to evangelical Protestant groups. Aides to three Republican senators - Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) were also involved, organizers said.
Analysis: The more mature way to handle this problem would be to allow a 10th Amendment solution - let each state have its own marriage laws. But we bump up against the "full faith and credit" clause, requiring states to recognize the contracts of other states. So a Constitutional Amendment is the best way to handle it. See my previous post of February 27th, 2006, entitled "The Fiscal Aspect of Gay Marriage", for more arguments against it.