Monday, October 13, 2003

Conservative and religious groups across the country are campaigning to promote traditional marriage this week, but a California church group has fired back with “Marriage Equality Week,” promoting same-sex “marriage.”

President Bush declared Oct. 12-18 Marriage Protection Week, and more than two dozen groups are using their pulpits, airwaves and grass-roots resources to tell the public and lawmakers that marriage is between a man and a woman, and should be protected from judges and activists working to redefine it.

“The point is to let the public know that marriage is under assault,” said Mike Schwartz, of Concerned Women for America. “If you change the definition of what marriage is, you have destroyed the institution.”

But Metropolitan Community Churches, a California-based denomination that performs more than 6,000 same-sex ceremonies annually, has gathered its allies to observe Marriage Equality Week this week.

MCC’s founder, the Rev. Troy Perry, said the point is to “provide a positive countervoice” to what he called the effort of the “religious right” to “deny a basic human right to gays and lesbians.”

“If they think their world will collapse by someone else having rights, then they need to examine their own agenda,” said Robin Tyler, co-founder of, a group that promotes same-sex “marriage” and suggested the idea of Marriage Equality Week.

“To not recognize my marriage and the marriages of thousands of other same-sex couples is discrimination,” Mr. Perry said.

MCC churches across the nation are holding press events and preaching sermons on marriage equality and how to get involved.

The groups constituting the Coalition to Protect Marriage are taking action, too. Groups such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (FRC) are encouraging their supporters to contact lawmakers and urge a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. Several of the groups are dedicating their own radio shows solely to the topic of marriage this week.

Concerned Women for America (CWFA) has a public-service announcement, and FRC launched a new Web site last week that provides a host of resources. FRC is asking all federal and state lawmakers to go on record in support of traditional marriage.

FRC President Tony Perkins said the week is not just about protecting marriage, but also about educating people on the valuable role marriage has played in society.

Ms. Tyler noted how decisively conservatives have rallied to defend marriage. “I have never seen the radical right organize as much as they have around this issue,” she said, and suggested the homosexual issue is a fund-raising ploy.

Mr. Schwartz dismissed that idea, and said the danger to marriage is real. He pointed to Vermont’s endorsement of same-sex civil unions and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a Texas sodomy law, a ruling he said has laid the groundwork to undermine marriage.

All the Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed same-sex civil unions, Mr. Schwartz said, showing that “the liberal elements who control the Democratic Party … have insisted on choosing this as a litmus-test issue,” and there is “serious money and serious organization behind the effort” to redefine marriage.

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