Traditionalists Holding Legislators Accountable on Marriage Measures
by Jody Brown
July 26, 2004
(AgapePress) - It only makes sense that as 2004 election season officially kicks off this week with the Democratic Party's national convention, that groups with a special interest in certain issues would begin to hold politicians accountable for their recent actions on those issues.
For advocates of traditional marriage and family values, the recent and ongoing debate on Capitol Hill regarding same-sex "marriage" and legislation that would limit marriage to the traditional arrangement -- one man, one woman -- has taken on tremendous importance. For example, the recent Senate discussion and subsequent vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) generated literally thousands of phone calls, letters, and e-mails to senators, as well as millions of signatures on petitions favoring such an amendment. Nevertheless, 50 senators -- many of them from states whose citizens overwhelmingly favor traditional marriage -- voted to prevent that measure from even coming before the full Senate for a vote.
That move, effectively a filibuster staged by Democratic leaders in the Senate, has not escaped the notice of pro-family groups and their supporters who stirred that strong public outcry heard on Capitol Hill. The founders of both Focus on the Family Action and the American Family Association, in fact, are taking what they see as the next step in the process: urging pro-family voters in several states to hold their respective legislators accountable for their votes against marriage protection bills.
Over the weekend, Focus on the Family Action launched an ad campaign in several newspapers, singling out those senators whose votes helped defeat the FMA. The ad features a picture of an upset child and bears the slogan: "Shame on you, Senator." Those senators highlighted in the first series of ads included Democrats Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Republican John Sununu of New Hampshire.
Of those senators, Dr. James Dobson -- founder of Focus on the Family Action -- says "each and every one of them ignored the will of the overwhelming majority of their constituents." He notes that both the voice-mail and phone systems of the Senate were "flooded" by calls running 20-to-1 in favor of the FMA, but that the people's voices were ignored.
"[That] represents an egregious breach of the public trust that cannot and must not be tolerated," Dobson says in a news release. "The votes of these ... senators were a slap in the face of every American child."
Recent House Vote
Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association (AFA), has toiled alongside Dobson and numerous other pro-family leaders during the fight for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Like many in that group, Wildmon predicted the FMA would be defeated in the Senate -- but that it would spell neither the death of the amendment itself nor the end of the battle to protect traditional marriage.
The AFA founder points out that the House version of the FMA is scheduled for September -- and that that elected group, in the wake of the Senate's denial of the FMA, approved by a 233-194 vote the Marriage Protection Act. That measure, viewed by some as a stop-gap measure until a constitutional amendment can be ratified protecting traditional marriage, removes from activists judges the power to declare the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 unconstitutional.
Wildmon says he feels compelled to clarify the vote on the two measures so voters "will not be confused by all the rhetoric" they are bound to hear this fall from U.S. representatives who voted against the Marriage Protection Act.
"Both those for and those against [the Marriage Protection Act] saw it as a test vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment," says Wildmon. "Those who voted for the Marriage Protection Act...were voting against homosexual marriage. Those who voted against [it] were voting for homosexual marriage."
Wildmon urges all advocates of traditional marriage to find out how their House representatives voted on the Marriage Protection Act, then follow up by contacting them. "Time is drawing short, and we need to be active in this battle," he says.
Meanwhile, a third pro-family group -- the National Clergy Council -- is taking a different approach to informing voters about the issues of the day. That group is encouraging evangelical churches across the U.S. to use the Sunday before election day (October 31) to educate their congregations on the positions of each party's candidates on what it sees as three critical issues: the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage, and the role of God in the life of the nation.
Representatives of the National Clergy Council announced the effort on Monday afternoon in Boston, site of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.