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October 14, 2003

Marriage Protection Week – we shouldn't need it

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I have to admit, I'm not that happy about the project the good people at Concerned Women for America are working on this week.

They're one of the groups supporting President Bush's "Marriage Protection Week," which runs through Saturday. Although I love and applaud the theme: "Marriage: One man, one woman." I just hate that we've reached the point where such a week is necessary. Thankfully, we have a president who has drawn the proverbial line in the sand with his bold declaration that he will do all he can to protect the sacred institution.

Marriage is the legal union of one man and one woman. It's simple, yet powerful. It's so basic to who we are, so absolutely mandated by the laws of nature, which its critical place in society would seem beyond explanation. From time immemorial, the family - starting with marriage between one man and woman - has been the foundation of every single civil society.

To alter that unit now would be the single greatest social experiment mankind has ever embarked upon. If the composition of marriage were changed, in just one or two generations the landscape of America would be irrevocably altered, affecting not just the family, but every other institution as well. If you weaken the foundation upon which a society is built, the result is a weaker society that will eventually crumble.

Homosexual activists claim that they want to certify their fidelity to one another - for a few of them, perhaps that's true. But the reality is the vast majority of homosexuals don't stay in a committed relationship - they float from one partner to the next, with many of the males having hundreds of partners over a lifetime.

The real goal of the movement to allow homosexuals to marry each other isn't to enjoy "marriage" - it's to redefine and destroy the institution that God designed. "Unions" between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or two men and one woman - or any other combination you can imagine - are not the equivalent of marriage, and they should never be treated as such. It's as Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, says in his essay on the subject: Grape juice and wine are both made from grapes. But you can't make grape juice and call it wine. Why? Because it's not wine.

Raving feminists have for years equated marriage to slavery, claiming that wives are second-class citizens and that the institution of marriage should be abolished. The feminist and homosexual activists are closely aligned - many of the most vocal feminists are lesbians - and anyone who has studied their organizations and leadership knows that one of their shared goals has always been to destroy the traditional family. Redefining marriage is the first step.

It's clear that protecting marriage is no longer enough: We need to encourage it, to strengthen it.

According to the latest issue of Business Week magazine, married couples soon will become a minority, overtaken by singles and those in alternative living arrangements. Already, we hear of "wars" breaking out within companies because married employees are paid more and receive more in benefits. Fortunately, we have family-friendly groups such as CWA and Focus on the Family working hard to dismantle this time bomb. When, for example, Andrew Sullivan wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 8 asking why conservatives oppose homosexual "marriage," the Family Research Council wasted no time responding.

Elected officials can help, too. Back in 2000, Frank Keating, then the governor of Oklahoma, spoke at the Heritage Foundation. He talked about how he had ordered the state chamber of commerce and the economics departments of his two flagship state universities to find out what held back the state economically. They came back with several reasons, such as the fact that taxes were too high.

But then the economic experts said something surprising: "We have too much divorce among families with children. We have too many out-of-wedlock births. We have too much violence and drug abuse." Keating couldn't very well change his state's divorce laws, so he got the legislature to lower the price of marriage licenses if couples would agree to attend a marriage course beforehand. He also got Oklahoma's churches, synagogues and mosques to agree to require their members to attend such courses before marriage. In the process, he lowered divorce rates, poverty rates and spousal-abuse rates.

The federal government spends $200 billion per year on welfare aid for families with children, 75 percent of which goes to single-parent families. It spends about half that much dealing with the social consequences of the decline of marriage. Why? Because children who aren't in intact two-parent families learn less, earn less, get in trouble more, abuse drugs and alcohol more - and have more trouble with their own marriages.

Would removing some of the tax and welfare-aid consequences of tying the knot - and throwing in some ideas about what it means to get, be and stay married - make all that spending go away? No. But it would help a lot, according to a Heritage Foundation study on the effectiveness of marriage-education programs.

This week, although I proudly join with Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and dozens of other fine organizations in voicing my support for marriage, my heart is heavy that we must do so. While I'm standing firm for marriage, I'll also be on my knees praying for God's protection on this great land, and thanking him for President Bush's uncompromising leadership in strengthening traditional marriage and our families. I hope you'll join me.

Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of the Heritage Foundation

Reprinted with permission of World Net Daily

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