- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001

A pro-family group says that Americans should protect the institution of marriage by amending the Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Alliance for Marriage (AFM) is concerned that homosexual activists will use the court system to establish same-sex marriages.
"We believe that developments in the U.S. courts have brought our nation to a historic crossroads," said Pastor Bill Teng, one of the leaders of the multifaith AFM, which yesterday introduced a two-sentence federal marriage amendment.
The weakening of marriage is "so far advanced" it can't be preserved without "using the ultimate democratic tool a federal constitutional amendment," said Mr. Teng, senior pastor at the Chinese Community Church of Washington.
AFM leaders cited the Vermont civil-union law, which gives same-sex couples the same benefits as married couples, as evidence of how courts are bypassing the public and redefining marriage.
"The proposed amendment will primarily prevent unelected judges from changing the institution of marriage," said Nathan Diamant of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
The amendment "will not sanction discrimination against homosexuals," deprive them of legal civil benefits or prevent civil-union laws, said Mr. Diamant. "It will, however, enshrine the traditional and historical institution of marriage."
"This is probably too little for some, and too much for others," he added, "but it is the right thing to do."
An amendment alone will not be enough to reverse family disintegration, said Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alexandria-based AFM.
"But we are convinced that protecting the legal status of marriage — and the process protecting the right of the American people to decide critical issues of social policy for themselves — is a necessary condition for the renewal of a marriage-based culture in the United States," said Mr. Daniels, who was flanked by leaders of Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Protestant faiths.
Homosexual, feminist, civil rights and religious groups immediately held their own press conference to condemn the proposed amendment.
"This proposed constitutional amendment is an attempt by a misguided group who believes that to strengthen the concept of family, they must tear gay families down," said Donna Payne, a leader of the Human Rights Campaign, a major homosexual advocacy group.
"Congress should not give it the time of day," said Patricia Ireland, the former president of the National Organization for Women. Instead, she called for enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee women the same rights as men.
"This amendment is the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb. It will wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples," said Christopher E. Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
This week, the ACLU sent a memo to Congress urging them to reject "this extraordinarily harmful amendment."
Two-thirds of both houses of Congress must vote to propose an amendment, and it must be ratified by 38 state legislatures.
AFM leaders said yesterday that while they have bipartisan support for the amendment in Congress, they deliberately introduced the measure without the presence of politicians. "We wanted to have an opportunity to declare that the future of marriage and the family in America is not a partisan political issue," said Rev. Thann Young, senior pastor at the Agape AME Church.
The proposed amendment says: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or 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."

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