Feb. 26, 2004
Marriage a sacred institution for one man, one woman
It wasn't President Bush who established marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And it wasn't this administration that decided that a family with a mom and a dad was the best means to raise children.
Marriage is a sacred institution established by God. It is not just a civil union; it is a holy one. The U.S. government and the state of Georgia have a compelling interest in defending traditional marriage through constitutional amendment. I was one of the first to co-sponsor the federal marriage amendment last May.
Recently, activist judges and local officials have aggressively attempted to redefine marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May narrowly approved a ruling that will require Massachusetts to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
San Francisco officials have issued thousands of marriage licenses to same-sex couples --- directly contradicting a California law, overwhelmingly approved by the voters of that state, clearly defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In New Mexico, a county began to issue marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender.
This won't fly in Georgia. Even in liberal Massachusetts, polls show that the majority of the population opposes marriage for same-sex couples. And the state's equally liberal U.S. senator, John Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is against gay marriage.
Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed by huge, bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, Georgia and like-minded states don't have to recognize civil unions or gay marriages performed in other states --- for the moment, at least.
The Defense of Marriage Act cannot prevent activist groups from undermining marriage laws through lawsuits brought in state court in states such as Vermont and Massachusetts. These lawsuits will lay the foundation for additional lawsuits around the country. For example, more than 80 percent of Vermont "civil unions" involve out-of-state residents --- from every state in the nation --- who will file lawsuits to undermine marriage in their respective states. A similar pattern can be expected to apply in Massachusetts.
Plus, an activist federal court could invalidate any and all of the Defense of Marriage Act. Such a move --- and I see it as inevitable without further action by the Congress and state legislatures --- would defy the will of the majority of Americans and the intent of the nation's elected lawmakers.
Altering the Constitution should not be taken lightly and it should be a last resort, but amend it we must if activist courts insist on making laws rather than interpreting them. An amendment will be difficult to pass, but once done, it will set in stone that marriage in this country is a union between one man and one woman.
The laws of man did not create marriage; the laws of man should not alter marriage.