On July 4 citizens of Vermont, like those of the other 49 states, will celebrate the day Americans became independent, choosing no longer to live by a king's command but instead by the Laws of Nature and Nature's God. For many the celebration will be poignant, because on July 1 Vermont will have begun living under a new law that is the result of a social revolution decreed by judges against the will of the people of Vermont. For most Americans, as well as for the vast majority of the human race, what the new law in essence establishes-"homosexual marriage"-is an oxymoron. Indeed, more than 70 percent of Americans understand that marriage is uniquely and essentially the union of male and female. That's why homosexual activists turned to the courts, in an end-run around popular opinion and the democratic process. And now, thanks to the legal regime forced upon Vermont by activist attorneys and sympathetic judges, this anti-democratic social revolution may take root. The Vermont process was top-down. Last December, the Vermont Supreme Court handed down a decision requiring the Vermont legislature to appease homosexual activists by either granting marital status to homosexual couples or instituting a statewide domestic-partnership scheme. Although town meetings across Vermont unanimously rejected any such measure, the Vermont legislature responded to this judicial ultimatum by voting in favor of developing a system to provide all of the benefits and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples. The Vermont "civil unions" bill that becomes law on July 1 won't affect just Vermont. After having convinced the Vermont Supreme Court and legislature to legalize de facto homosexual "marriage," homosexual activists will travel to Vermont, get "married," return to their home states, and sue for legal recognition of these marital unions in their own state courts. In some cases, other state courts can be expected to seize upon this opportunity to recognize these out-of-state unions. In anticipation of such a strategy, many states have made efforts to protect marriage from legal assault. Colorado last month became the 34th state to pass a "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) specifically defining marriage for purposes of state law as the union of a man and a woman. All such state DOMA bills are modeled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, for purposes of all federal law (with implications for the federal tax code, immigration, social security, and so on). Some states have gone through constitutional amendment or proposition battles. In 1998, Alaska and Hawaii passed constitutional amendments to ensure that marriage could not be redefined by judges in their respective state court systems. In each case, the constitutional amendments were supported by approximately 70 percent of the voters in each state. This year, on March 7, California voters approved Proposition 22, which recognizes only marriage between a man and a woman in the state, by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin. The margin of victory for marriage was far higher than the media and any polling firms had previously predicted. For weeks prior to the vote, major media outlets in California had downplayed public support for a measure that was characterized as hate legislation. But there's a problem. Proponents of same-sex "marriage" are hoping that, after their first state-court victory, the resulting legal and social conflicts at the state level will encourage the federal courts to intervene in the emerging debate over marriage. Using another round of specious legal arguments, homosexual activists will demand that the federal courts remove all of the remaining state-law barriers to same-sex marriage. Although family law has traditionally been a matter for state law, past federal intervention in the abortion debate-striking down all state laws protecting unborn human life-provides ample evidence that the federal courts may well do the same to marriage law. In addition, the federal courts for a variety of legal reasons can be expected to narrowly interpret the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a way that will leave marriage at the state level open to legal attack. As a result, although efforts to pass state DOMA measures are a critical part of the effort to preserve marriage in America, these state DOMA bills may prove to be a sort of Maginot line for marriage, and may be readily overrun. In addition to these legal efforts, homosexual activists have run a sophisticated propaganda campaign in order to confuse and eradicate public resistance to their radical agenda. They have intimidated and overwhelmed opponents by the sheer volume and vehemence of falsehood. They've mastered the Orwellian propaganda technique of using language as a means of thought control-introducing a wide range of new words (homophobia, domestic partnerships, etc.) and radically redefining old words (i.e., transforming "tolerance" to mean forced endorsement). Homosexual activists have learned to play the role of victim while actively victimizing those who oppose them. Thus, while they typically manifest an intense bigotry toward those who dare to disagree with them publicly, they have been the first to claim to be the victims of hatred and intolerance. Knowing better than to frighten people with the truth about the scope of the change they seek, they have couched their aims in warm, familiar verbiage, along these lines: We're not destroying marriage and the legal institution of the family; we're bringing about equality and individual rights. Most importantly, homosexual activists, who are overwhelmingly white, have hit upon the tactic of borrowing from the language and symbolism of the civil-rights movement in order to provide a moral cover for their socially destructive agenda. Needless to say, such an approach disregards the biblical basis of the entire civil-rights movement in America. These tactics are working. For example, the Rutland Herald, one of the top two newspapers in Vermont, described a recent peaceful rally by Vermont citizens on behalf of marriage in Vermont as "the equivalent of the fire hoses and police dogs that were turned on civil rights workers in the South in an earlier day." How can such tactics be countered? To begin with, Christian leaders, along with other Americans of good will, must recognize the threat. In many ways, homosexual activists are a mirror image of the salt Christians are called to be. Homosexuals are influencing American culture, though they remain a tiny minority. In no uncertain terms, Jesus warned his followers that if they should ever lose their saltiness, they would be fit "only to be trampled under the feet of men." For Christians, the penalty for abdicating the biblical duty to be moral salt concerning marriage may be the increasing cultural marginalization-and persecution-of the Christian community. In addition, it is important to recognize that the union of a man and a woman in marriage is the most multicultural institution known to mankind. This basic truth about the universality of marriage suggests several important strategic guidelines for efforts to affirm and promote marriage. First, Christians should seek to link arms and build alliances with those of other faith communities-Jews, Mormons, and Muslims-who share a natural-law view of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Second, those who believe in marriage must deliberately link arms across race lines in order to build coalitions that can overcome the false civil-rights rhetoric used by homosexual activists. Those who oppose homosexuality need to get outside racial comfort zones and build a movement that can follow in the authentic footsteps of the civil-rights movement in America. Finally, on the legal front, no conventional legal remedy may be able to stop the juggernaut unleashed by homosexual activists in the American courts. Deep shifts in the culture of the American legal profession-especially in the values of the professors at our nation's influential elite law schools-have virtually guaranteed the eventual demise of the legal institution of marriage at the hands of the judiciary. At present, marriage laws in the United States are in the same extremely vulnerable position as our laws protecting unborn human life in the early 1970s. In the end, a constitutional amendment to protect marriage from judicial redefinition may be the only way to save marriage for future generations. Such an amendment would give definitive and lasting voice to the deep public consensus in favor of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, before that consensus is gradually erased from our laws and public consciousness by activists and the courts.
-Matt Daniels is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Marriage, based in Washington, D.C.