“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, nor state or federal law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” This simple phrase, it has been suggested by a coalition of conservatives and liberals, should be a part of the Constitution of the United States.
“Not so fast,” replies a not-so-diverse group of activists—the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual forces of America. To them, an amendment which codifies the natural order of the marital relationship is a threat to the progress they’ve been making in “normalizing” their aberrant behavior.
Homosexuality as an alternate, yet equal, lifestyle is regularly presented to children in government schools. We, the taxpayers, of course, pay the tab for such courses of instruction. Left-leaning corporations such as Ben & Jerry’s, the “socially-conscious” ice cream makers, long ago extended benefits to their homosexual and heterosexual employees who shack up. Now even more conservative companies offer these benefits without batting an eye. Homosexual activists will not easily suffer loss of these strategic footholds.
As the Marriage Amendment wends its way through the arduous process of ratification, don’t expect a “fair fight” on this issue. Allow me to share just a few examples from the battlefront in Massachusetts.
The Vermont Supreme Court decided, in December 1999, to legalize “civil unions” in that state. Homosexuals cheered and declared the court hadn’t gone far enough. Pro-family groups in Massachusetts scrambled to get a Defense of Marriage Act of some sort passed. What they came up with was a citizens’ initiative petition to ask the people of the Commonwealth whether the state constitution should define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Polls indicated that the citizens of the Bay State wanted such an amendment. It was not to be.
It isn’t easy taking a citizens’ initiative from a concept to a ballot question. There are numerous legal hurdles to be overcome before voters get to vote. But as Bryan Rudnick and many other pro-family activists found out, not all the obstacles are legal, legitimate—or even moral.
Rudnick headed a non-profit organization called Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage (MCA). MCA was the primary sponsor of the Protection of Marriage Act, which would insert language into the state constitution to codify the universally accepted belief that marriage between one-man-and-one-woman is the only legally recognized form of marriage
One of the legal barriers to getting on the ballot was the gathering of 57,100 valid voter signatures on clean, unmarked petitions. Advocates of all ballot initiatives were very evident at shopping malls and other public places for months, during the year 2000, trying to gather their signatures. Also evident wherever marriage supporters tried to gather signatures, were so-called “Truth Squads,” whose members would argue, intimidate, and otherwise attempt to discourage citizens from signing the petitions. They also bumped people as they signed the petitions, seeking to put stray marks on the petitions. Stray marks invalidate entire petitions.
Opposition to the initiative was led by the Campaign For Equality, a coalition of homosexual activist groups. A report in Bay Windows, the homosexual newspaper stated, “According to gay activists, they are putting a good-sized dent in the number of signatures petition circulators are able to collect.”
Rudnick was not deterred. He and his gallant band of signature gatherers collected more than 120,000 signatures. Rudnick’s work was not done, however. When he and his volunteers showed up at Boston City hall with petitions to be certified by the City Clerk they were greeted by a woman named Sarah Bennett, who identified herself as a “leader” of the “Decline to Sign” movement. She also indicated that she had headed some of the Truth Squads. When the clerk had finished time stamping the petitions brought in by the Mass Citizens for Marriage volunteers, Bennett handed the clerk a form that indicated a number of names which were to be removed from the petitions.
Rudnick was not surprised. He had known for a long time that these people had some of their own sign the petitions so that they could later say they had been tricked into signing.
Having collected the requisite number of signatures, these traditional marriage activists still had a long uphill climb even to get the amendment on a ballot. They needed to have a joint session of the legislature, sitting in a Constitutional Convention, approve the question. If this happened, the signature gatherers would have to go out for a second round of harvesting. If this effort was successful, then the item could appear on the ballot in 2004 as a referendum on a constitutional amendment.
Legislators, few of whom wished to stand up and declare for either side of this argument, ducked decision-making as long as they could. They convened and adjourned twice without taking up any items on their agenda. Then, on July 31, 2002, in a move that crushed a grass-roots effort by thousands of people around the state to preserve traditional marriage, they voted 137 to 53 to adjourn the Constitutional Convention. They never took up the matter of whether citizens could vote on the Marriage Amendment. Massachusetts citizens will not have the opportunity to vote on the "Protection of Marriage Amendment" in 2004.
If the Marriage Amendment had come to a vote in the Constitutional Convention, only 50 votes would have been needed to move it to the next phase.
Pressured by the Homosexual lobby and the AFL-CIO, the legislature recorded no vote on the substance of the issue. No record exists of any of these lawmakers casting a ballot either for or against traditional marriage. It was, after all, an election year.
The deck was stacked against the family-loving citizens of Massachusetts. Senate President Thomas Birmingham was running for the Democrat nomination for Governor. He needed, so he thought, the homosexual vote. He wanted the unions. He delivered for them. He finished last in the Democrat derby to run against Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the current Governor.