- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

A group spearheading the push to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman said yesterday that it is pleased with the proposed language that’s meant to clarify for voters what the marriage referendum will or won’t do.

“The explanation is just supposed to make clear what the amendment does, and I think that was accomplished in what they passed,” Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation, told The Washington Times yesterday.

“When Virginians go to the ballot they are going to know that this is about marriage between one man and one woman,” Mrs. Cobb said. “The explanation is not going to make or break a voter’s mind, and if someone thinks it is, they are really out of touch with voters.”

Earlier this week, the state House Privileges and Elections Committee approved the state’s official explanation of the amendment that will be available to voters at the polls. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee is expected to vote on the language as early as today.

The explanation was authored by Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican who supports the amendment.

The explanation states: “marriage in the Commonwealth creates specific legal rights, benefits and obligations for a man and a woman. There are other legal rights, benefits and obligations, which will continue to be available to unmarried persons, including the naming of an agent to make end-of-life decisions … protections afforded under Domestic Violence laws … ownership of real property as joint tenants with or without a right of survivorship … or disposition of property by will.”

Homosexual rights advocates said the explanation is slanted toward marriage-amendment advocates.

The language, which lawmakers must provide for constitutional amendments at the ballot box, has helped unearth the emotional public relations campaigns that have been overshadowed by the legislature’s ongoing budget impasse.

Last month, the Commonwealth Coalition jump-started its official push, “Vote ‘No,’ Virginia!” in its effort to kill the amendment.

“We have no doubt that there are a million Virginia voters who will recognize that many thousands of Virginia businesses and families will be adversely affected if this ill-considered and unnecessary proposal becomes law,” said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, the coalition’s campaign director.

The group argues that there is no need for a marriage amendment because homosexual “marriage” and civil unions are already barred in Virginia.

It also claims that the amendment could create uncertainty about the ability of public and private employers to offer health benefits to any unmarried domestic partners — which many employers now do — prohibit the application of domestic violence laws for people in unmarried relationships and make it more difficult for unmarried couples to determine guardianship for their children.

Mrs. Cobb disagreed. “You have groups using diversionary tactics, talking about the language or the explanation of the amendment, instead of talking about the real issue,” she said. “The goal of the opponents is clearly to talk about anything but the issue of marriage. That’s simply because Virginians don’t agree with the redefinition of marriage.”

Marriage is the “fundamental building block of society,” and same-sex unions or “marriage” are risky “social experiments” that are not in the children’s best interest, Mrs. Cobb said. “We have decades of research that make it crystal clear that the best outcome for children is to be raised in a household with a mom and a dad,” she said.

If the amendment passes, Virginia would join 19 other states that have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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