When they decided to push their state's marriage amendment by erecting billboards along Route 190, the Louisiana Family Forum's critics said they were wasting money.
"They said we were nuts: nobody was going to pay attention to those billboards," said Gene Mills, the Forum's executive director.
Louisiana voters on September 20 chose to amend their state constitution to reserve marriage for one man and one woman, banning official recognition of homosexual unions and all other "alternatives." The amendment received 78% of the vote.
A few days before, a third of the state's population was on the road, evacuating Louisiana's low-lying coastal districts in anticipation of Hurricane Ivan. Weather reports warned that New Orleans and other cities might be inundated.
The result was a 150-mile traffic jam — on Route 190.
"A lot of people looked at those billboards for five or six hours," Mills said.
Churches on a Roll
If the hurricane played a role in getting out the pro-marriage message, Louisiana's churches played a much bigger one, Mills said.
"The churches did an extraordinary job of supporting the amendment," he said. "I went on a tour of 20 cities to take part in pastor round tables, discussing how the churches can get engaged in the culture war. It's about time we all woke up to the fact that we're in a war.
"God has really done something in those pastors' hearts. They are energized. They worked hard to educate their congregations on the Bible's stand on homosexuality. And the churches themselves were very active in voter registration, transportation to the polls, etc."
The 78% vote for the amendment "is probably a conservative estimate of the real sentiment in this state," Mills said. "Now that the churches are waking up, they're energizing the people, too."
Instead of raising money and bringing in out-of-state volunteers to try to defeat the amendment — as they did, unsuccessfully, in Missouri this summer and in the Massachusetts primary elections earlier this month — homosexual groups tried to use the courts to block the vote.
The Louisiana Supreme Court on September 2 rejected three different lawsuits aimed at preventing the vote.
"They knew they couldn't win the election," Mills said, "so they tried to win in court."
"The pro-family tide for marriage hit the state like a hurricane," said Bob Knight of Concerned Women for America, a national organization that backed the amendment. "Homosexual activists tried several unsuccessful legal ploys to keep the measure off the ballot, and they are already hard at work trying to invalidate the overwhelming marriage victory. The 'gay' view seems to be, 'So what if nearly 80% of Louisianans want to protect marriage? We've got our Doberman attorneys to tear the house down to get what we want."
Critics of the vote complained about a "low turnout," but Mills attributed that to the hurricane.
"A third of the people had their lives disrupted by the evacuation," he said. "Also, the timing of the election didn't help the turnout. We wanted to avoid getting caught up in political partisanship, so we agreed to hold the vote at an off-time — away from the November presidential election.
"The pro-family movement in Louisiana is bipartisan, especially on the local level. A November election brings out more voters, but it also brings out more partisanship."
In November, ten more states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah — will vote on pro-marriage constitutional amendments. Petitions are being collected for a vote in Ohio, too.
How many states will have passed their own marriage amendments before the proposed federal amendment is ready for the voters?
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.