- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

Advocates for religious and legal "marriage" for homosexuals are moving toward their goal, racing against a countermove to amend the U.S. Constitution to say marriage is between a man and woman.
Since May, lawyers for homosexual couples have sued Massachusetts and New Jersey for denying them marriage licenses.
And last week, the Episcopal bishop of Kansas became the first in his denomination to approve religious rites for same-sex unions publicly.
The lead plaintiffs in the New Jersey lawsuit are two Episcopal ministers who are partners. Gay activists hope the state Supreme Court one of the most liberal in the nation will rule that their relationship is protected by the state constitution.
"The message to the courts is that this is a civil right like those given to blacks in the South, and that message is being mirrored in some of the mainline denominations," said Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage.
"They will win in the courts and have support from the elite in some churches," he said. "But when you take it to the public, even in the liberal churches, the vast majority rejects the idea of homosexual 'marriage,'" he said.
Bishop William E. Smalley of Kansas said his policy was novel only in its being made public. "Others are doing it but are very quiet about it," the bishop said last week.
His action came just weeks after the Anglican Church in Canada voted to allow "same-sex union" rituals by their clergy in their churches. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.
Other Anglican leaders protested the redefinition of marriage.
"Through his unilateral action, Bishop Smalley has taken a giant step out of orthodoxy and has broken fellowship with faithful Anglicans around the world," said the Rev. David C. Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a conservative association.
He urged the bishop to avoid a schism in the church and "not to implement his decision."
After courts in Hawaii and Alaska ruled during the 1990s that the state must provide marriage licenses to homosexuals, those states and others passed new laws starting in 1998 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Then in 2000, Vermont created a "civil union" status that gave homosexual partners the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple. So far, the state has awarded "civil union" certificates to 4,122 couples, more than eight in 10 coming from other states.
States such as California are reviewing the meaning of the Vermont certificate for local benefits, and the "civil union" status is likely to be used in homosexual rights lawsuits in other states.
To neutralize state court rulings on same-sex "marriage" rights, Mr. Daniels and other family-values groups are backing the Federal Marriage Amendment, which last month was introduced in the House with bipartisan backing.
It would amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman and allow state legislatures to decide on marriage benefits.
The American Civil Liberties Union has put out an alert against the amendment. "[It] would wipe out every single law protecting nontraditional families," said Angela Colaiuta, field organizer of the ACLU Action Network.
Mr. Daniels said this is a "straw- man argument" against the measure, because although it limits rights on benefits and sends a cultural signal, it denies no protections.
Two of the nation's black denominations, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Church of God in Christ, have endorsed the amendment.
"They reject the analogy that the homosexual marriage movement is like the civil rights movement," Mr. Daniels said. "Calling it a civil right is a relentless effort to overcome public opinion."


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