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The power of three

"The power of three" Continued...

Issue: "NextGen worship," July 26, 2008

Jim Garlow listened for 90 minutes without saying a word. At 9 p.m., the meeting adjourned. But Garlow gathered six people around a corner table and said, "We have to mobilize pastors across the state, and I'm not leaving here until we have a plan."

That plan, which involved activating the San Diego church network and building on it statewide, kicked off with a November 2007 meeting of about 200 pastors and Christian leaders at Skyline Wesleyan. Speaker after speaker reiterated what churches stood to lose, the centrality of Scripture to the issue, and the need for an amendment petition drive that would move quickly.

Clark spoke. Garlow spoke. Charles LiMandri of the conservative Thomas More Law Center spoke.

Miles MacPherson listened.

"When I heard what was happening and what was at stake, I wanted to fight," said MacPherson, a former defensive back for the NFL's San Diego Chargers. "I did not want to look back on this and have to look God in the eye and have Him say, 'Why didn't you do something? I gave you a big mouth-why didn't you use it?'"

After the meeting, MacPherson emerged as a third prime mover who, with Clark and Garlow, would muscle an unprecedented church-powered, volunteer petition drive north through California. "I'm the clarion-call guy," said Garlow. "Chris [Clark] is the strategist and Miles is the guy who gets everybody fired up."

The trio set up meetings of area pastors in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, Chino, and elsewhere, where they repeated the message of the November Skyline meeting. While turnout was low at some churches, others, including Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, caught fire.

Jack Hibbs, the church's senior pastor, had for years been protesting gay activists' attacks on Prop 22, and his congregation had long been active on local policy issues. "When we heard what was going on, it was a natural fit," he said.

Hibbs, whose church serves 7,000 adults, began rallying pastors in Chino, Orange County, and San Bernardino. Meanwhile, his own congregation took on the petition drive with gusto, ultimately becoming a validation center for the state registrar's office.

Between late January and April 1, similar drives took place across the state, with more than 300 churches serving as petition distribution and drop-off centers. The goal, Garlow liked to say, was to "make getting petitions as easy and accessible as getting a coffee at Starbucks." The grassroots groundswell spurred a flood of donations small and large for paid signature-gathering, including nearly $1 million from Catholic groups and $1.1 million from evangelicals.

Ultimately, the drive netted 1.12 million signatures, an unprecedented 400,000 of which were collected by volunteers.

On June 2, the California secretary of state announced that Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment affirming traditional marriage, had qualified for the ballot. "It is amazing," Hibbs said, "to realize that now, statewide, there are pastors gathering, and that there will be hundreds more gathering through just a couple of guys in San Diego taking a stand."

At the ballot box

Same-sex marriage issues are also front and center in Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida

By Lynn Vincent

Voters in four states will go to the polls Nov. 4 and weigh in on marriage-related ballot measures. As in California, residents in Florida and Arizona will vote on whether to join 27 other states in approving state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. This is the second time Arizona voters will consider a same-sex marriage ban. In 2006, voters narrowly rejected a similar measure by 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. While a 1996 Arizona law already prohibits same-sex marriages, proponents say the amendment is necessary to prevent judges from overturning it.

Backers of California's proposed constitutional amendment, Prop 8, note that voters in 2000 passed Prop 22, a statutory measure recognizing traditional marriage, by landslide margins. But since then, the gay and lesbian caucus of the California legislature-the only recognized homosexual statehouse caucus in the country-has worked tirelessly to mandate positive portrayals of homosexuals by teachers in public schools. That means eight years' worth of young, state-indoctrinated voters who didn't mark ballots in 2000 will do so in November.

Prop 8 polling data varies: A May L.A. Times/KTLA poll of 834 Californians, including 705 registered voters, showed 54 percent supporting the measure, with 35 percent opposed. A May Field poll asked the question differently and tallied different results: In a random sample of 1,052 registered voters, 51 percent approved of the idea of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 42 percent were opposed.

In Arkansas, voters in November will decide whether to prohibit unmarried couples from adopting or providing foster care. The Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban originally targeted same-sex couples. But after failing to gain lawmakers' support, the measure's authors broadened it to include all cohabiting couples. The initiative follows a 2006 Arizona Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a state policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving as foster parents.

Only three states-Florida, Mississippi, and Utah-explicitly prohibit same-sex couples from adopting. "We oppose adoption by homosexuals and feel that even the strongest laws, such as you have in Florida, where all homosexuals are barred from adopting, are justified because of the pathologies of homosexual behavior itself," said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. "In states where there is not the political will to pass a law against gay adoptions, we feel there should be a strong preference given to placing children with a married husband and wife, because that's the best family structure for children to grow up with."

-with reporting by Kristin Chapman

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