What Can Be Done?
The institution of traditional marriage can be protected through actions taken in the arenas of Public Education, Legal Policy, State Policy and Federal Policy.
In the States
It should be kept in mind that, while the marriage debate is now a national issue, it is not primarily a federal policy matter. By tradition, and in accord with our constitutional division of power between the federal government and the states, marriage is recognized and regulated by state law. Most of the key battles, therefore, will occur at the state level.
In addition to the legislative measures, during 2004 citizens in six states organized petition drives to place an amendment to preserve marriage on their ballot. There was a total of 13 states that passed a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage during 2004.
On the National Level
Congress has already considered a marriage protection amendment. The Senate defeated a procedural motion about the measure by a vote of 50 to 48. (two Senators did not vote.) It did not pass in the U.S. House of Representatives either. It gained 227 Yea’s and 186 Nay’s. 20 U.S. Representatives did not vote.
In addition to these battles, concerted efforts must be made at every level to educate the public, policymakers, and political leaders generally about marriage and current threats to the institution of marriage. While there is a growing consensus in favor of traditional marriage, public confusion about what to do invites strong and consistent moral and political leadership. Several themes are important to this effort.
- A clear and compelling case must be made for the nature, substance, and societal importance of marriage.
- Marriage as a unique relationship between a man and a woman should be defended on the basis of empirical evidence and studies provided by social science.
- A strong case must be made that redefining the institution of marriage undermines the institution, destroys the case for promoting an ideal of marriage, and threatens religious liberty and private institutions.
Above and beyond defending existing state laws and legal precedents that uphold traditional marriage, a primary objective of legal policy is to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act from inevitable constitutional challenge. In addition to upholding the constitutional rule of law in the face of activist courts, a major purpose of this legal strategy is to slow down the judicial juggernaut as much as possible so that legislatures and the people will not be excluded from this debate and precluded from acting to protect marriage.
The Alliance Defense Fund is tracking the various challenges to DOMA. Check out their website for the latest information – www.domawatch.org.