- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the last week, the issue of racism in this country has again reared its ugly head. In modern-day America, labeling someone as “racist” or a “bigot” is a serious insult. Impugning someone’s character and declaring an opponent’s view as “illegitimate” seems to be part of the political dynamic today. No place is this more evident than in the current debate over the definition of marriage.

No one in the D.C. City Council chambers on May 5 will forget the incendiary words of councilman David A. Catania calling fellow council member and civil rights activist Marion Barry a bigot because he opposes gay marriage.

Following Mr. Catania’s example, the same has been done to thousands of men and women in the District simply because they have a different and traditional view of what constitutes marriage. Unfortunately, the views of the majority of D.C. residents have been shut out by the power brokers in the D.C. government and pushed out by a small group of gay activists who hope to redefine marriage in this city.

The D.C. City Council plans to prevent the hard-fought freedom of the people in their charge to vote on this critically important issue. In fact, D.C. City Council members arrogantly declared their ability to speak for the citizens of the nation’s first city without even consulting them on one of the nation’s most defining social issues.

Despite a groundswell of local support for the protection of marriage by a group of business leaders, pastors and citizen activists, the city council decided to accelerate its request to have gay marriages legally performed within the District.



This move would impact the definition of marriage in the entire country, as Congress must approve D.C. legislation.

The institution of marriage is unique in our society. It is the one institution that binds women and men together to form a family, serving incredibly important societal purposes. There is little doubt that the best environment for raising children is provided by a loving, married mother and father.

Gay-marriage advocates purport that the practice can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage without impact. But same-sex marriage laws will create conflict with people who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law. Those conflicts would always be resolved in favor of same-sex marriage because there can be no “conscientious objectors” to the law.

What are some of those conflicts?

c You can teach your children that marriage is between a man and a woman, but your children’s D.C. schools will be forced to teach them that marriage includes same-sex couples.

c You can teach your children at home that there are important spiritual and societal reasons to believe in traditional marriage only. But your children will be told that gay marriage is a civil rights issue; those opposing it are akin to the racists of history who opposed interracial marriage and supported slavery.

c You can be a counselor, physician or attorney who believes in traditional marriage, but if you act in concert with your beliefs, you could lose your professional license and your livelihood.

c You can provide services to the wedding industry and be sued or fined for refusing to be part of a same-sex wedding.

c You can be a religious charity providing adoption services, but if you refuse to provide services to a same-sex couple, you have to abandon your beliefs or end your mission.

c Your church can teach that gay marriage is not appropriate, but if you are too active, your tax exemption may be revoked.

The above conflicts are not hypothetical. They have already happened in states that have adopted these laws and will become increasingly frequent.

Whether you are a resident of the District or live outside the Beltway, you need to be concerned about the D.C. City Council moving forward without even a poll on what the residents want. Unlike votes in other states, this legislation will set in motion a review by Congress and a potential ballot initiative in the District. Preserving marriage as we have known it is a battle worth fighting, and we intend to do just that.

Gay-marriage supporters purport that the debate over marriage is creating a civil war in the city. They believe the issue is contentious and divisive. The gay community’s own spokespeople declare that they want to have several days of debates and hearings concerning this issue because they feel that their voices need to be heard.

The truth is that the gay community has “manipulated” the political process through extravagant campaign contributions and strategically infiltrating the city’s Democratic Party hierarchy during the last five years. D.C. Council members have ironically participated in the suppression of the citizens’ right to vote in order to advance a privileged minority’s pet issue.

I have one suggestion to the D.C. City Council, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, Congress, and our national media: Let the people vote. American freedom is all about the voice of the people. We must trust our freedom, we must protect our process, and we must trust our people with this treasure called “liberty.” Let the people vote. Let their voices be heard.

Bishop Harry Jackson is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church and chairman of “Stand for Marriage DC.”

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