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Posted at 7:46 PM ET, 05/ 8/2009

One Man, One Woman -- Only

By Marisa Katz

By Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Beltsville

When the D.C. Council passed a measure last week to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, the council members acted surreptitiously and violated the sacred trust of their office. This decision, in which little attention was paid to the concerns of many D.C. constituents, marked a new low in irresponsible leadership.

In a predominantly black city that has lived through the worst facets of discrimination, a strange brand of reverse bigotry is being perpetrated. Defenders of virtue and protectors of family and age-appropriate education of children are being called bigots. This is ironic in a city that was built by slave labor and that has a bronze statue on top of the U.S. Capitol called “Freedom.” Today the District of Columbia is less democratic, less free, and less just because it sanctions same-sex marriage reciprocity.

Those of use who oppose this action have held two rallies over the past few weeks, with more than 100 ministers participating. We have served notice to the D.C. Council that we will seek to overturn their decision by direct popular vote.

The institution of marriage is unique in our society. It is the one institution that binds women and men together to form a family, serving incredibly important societal purposes. There is little doubt that the best environment for raising children is by a loving married mother and father.

Advocates of same-sex marriage purport that their form can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage without impact. But same-sex marriage laws will create conflict between people who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law. Those conflicts would always be resolved in favor of same-sex marriage because there can be no “conscientious objectors” to the law.

What are some of those conflicts?

  • You can teach your children that marriage is between a man and a woman, but your children’s D.C. schools will teach them that marriage includes same-sex couples.
  • You can teach your children that there are important spiritual and societal reasons to believe only in traditional marriage. But your children will be told that gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and that those opposing it are akin to the racists of history who opposed interracial marriage and supported slavery.
  • You can be a counselor, physician or attorney who believes in traditional marriage, but if you act in concert with your beliefs, you could lose your professional license and your livelihood.
  • You can provide services to the wedding industry and be sued or fined for refusing to be part of a same-sex wedding.
  • You can be a religious charity providing adoption services, but if you refuse to provide services to a same-sex couple, you have to abandon your beliefs or end your mission.
  • Your church can teach that same-sex marriage is not appropriate, but if you are too active politically on the issue, your tax exemption may be revoked.

These are not hypothetical conflicts. They have already emerged and will become increasingly frequent. Whether or not you are a resident of the District, you need to be concerned about this legislation. Unlike votes in other states, this legislation will set in motion a review by Congress and a potential ballot initiative in the District.

Preserving marriage as we have known it is a battle worth fighting, and we intend to do just that.

The writer is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville and is the D.C. rally organizer for the Stand 4 Marriage Coalition.

By Marisa Katz  | May 8, 2009; 7:46 PM ET
Categories:  same-sex marriage  
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Comments

Just exactly where have any of these doomsday scenarios taken place? Apparently these conflicts are becoming "increasingly frequent" but Mr. Jackson can't seem to cite a single real-world example. Same-sex marriage is already legal in five states and none of these ominous predictions have come true. Sir, leave your fire and brimstone in the pulpit.

Posted by: alewis4 | May 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Being an ass isn't a constitutionally protected right, actually.

Posted by: joshlct | May 12, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I didn't realize Beltsville was part of the District.

Posted by: jd2004dc | May 12, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Catholic churches teach that divorce is not legitimate, and that divorcees may not marry again. Government, however, allows divorce, and permits divorcees to remarry. Are Catholics therefore being discriminated against?

An Orthodox Jew may tell their child that eating pork is an abomination - is it a violation of the separation of church and state that the public schools serve ham sandwiches to non-Jewish children?

Does it not now discriminate against my religion, which teaches that gay marriage is sacred and blessed, that our children are taught in public schools that marriage is only for straight folks?

Churches, and religious folk, may all teach that marriage means only a man or a woman, or only two people who haven't been married before, or only two people of the same faith or race, or only people whose marriages were properly arranged by parents, or whatever - but the law cannot be used to force these religious opinions on others. If you have valid reasons for those religious opinions, you shouldn't need government to promote those beliefs to or enforce those beliefs on your children - or anyone else's.

What you are saying is that you should not have to tolerate legal marriages of which your religion disapproves - that your children should not have to see them legitimized and supported by government. But having to accept that others make personal choices of which you disapprove is part of living in a free society. Some of us disapprove of people who worship a god who tortures people forever and ever for being gay. Would you have us teach your children in public schools that your lifestyle is inferior to ours?

And please stop making the ridiculous claim that you are "standing 4 marriage." You're against it. You're against gay people's marriages pure and simple. As for heterosexual marriages, you're promoting a serious denigration of the institution, by wanting to have it defined legally as a matter of genitals rather than hearts and minds. Additionally, you're insulting heterosexual marriage quite severely by suggesting that the value of our marriages is nil without special government favoritism, that its value is threatened even by the mere existence of a legal alternative that by definition does not even APPEAL to heterosexuals. Stop protecting my marriage - I don't need special privileges from government to sustain it, and I find it ridiculous and offensive to suggest that I do.

Posted by: Catken1 | May 13, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Additionally, there are three things wrong with your statement that "the best environment for raising children is by a loving married mother and father."

1. Not necessarily so. All studies that have been done comparing the kids of gay parents to the kids of straight parents find no significant benefit to having parents with different genitalia. The kids of loving gay parents are quite happy and healthy, thanks. (Indeed, at least gay people are highly unlikely to have children who are not wanted, planned and dearly loved.)

2. We do not permit or refuse marriage to people based on their ability to be good parents. You deny gay people the right to marry on the grounds that you do not believe they provide an ideal environment for raising kids. But surely a loving gay couple are better parents than a pair of alcoholics, drug abusers, people who go through marriages like normal people go through cough drops, violent felons, or worse, convicted child abusers or molesters or murderers? Yet all of these people may marry at will.

When I married my husband, neither of us were asked by the state whether we wanted children, or asked any questions designed to determine whether or not we'd be ideal parents. We were asked whether we were of legal age and whether we consented to marry - that's it. And that's the only criteria that should be applied to gay people, too.

3. Banning gay marriage does not make gay parents heterosexual. It does not provide ANY child with "a father and a mother" who wouldn't already have them. It simply makes gay people's children's lives less secure, less healthy. What you are saying to those kids is, "I don't believe you're in an ideal family situation - so here, let me make your family situation _worse_." Oh, that makes sense. That's pro-child. Really.

Posted by: Catken1 | May 13, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

As for wedding planners - how do you feel about devout Jewish wedding planners who refuse to provide services for Christians?
Or physicians who refuse to provide fertility treatments to people of other faiths than their own, on the grounds that the kids are likely to go to Hell? Or attorneys who don't want to make wills in which any money is left to a church they don't believe in? Or religious adoption charities who take public money contributed by all of us but will only adopt children out to parents of one faith, or who refuse interracial couples or couples who don't follow "proper" gender roles? What would you say to a Quaker adoption charity that took public money but refused to allow members of the military to adopt on the grounds that their religion called for pacifism?

And for churches - if you become active politically on ANY issue, your tax exemption should be revoked. Again, you may believe what you like about marriage and its validity- but you have no business seeking to use the force of government and law to enforce your religious beliefs on others, or even on members of your church who choose to disobey. The worst you can do to the latter is to expel them from your church, and that's your prerogative.

Posted by: Catken1 | May 13, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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