No Rush: The Process Has Seen Ample Debate

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Feb 5, 2006
By Victoria Cobb

The national movement to amend state constitutions to protect the traditional definition of marriage has come to Virginia, giving citizens of the Commonwealth an opportunity to vote on the matter this November. In the past 18 months, voters in 15 states have passed amendments by overwhelming numbers, bringing to 19 the total number of states defining marriage in their constitutions.

The need for this amendment stems from the actions of judges in other states that have overturned long-standing state laws preventing same-sex marriage. The most publicized case came from Massachusetts, where in an act of remarkable judicial activism that state’s highest court ordered the legislature to redefine marriage. More recently, in our neighboring state Maryland, a judge invalidated a 33-year-old ban on same-sex marriage. Judges in Nebraska and California have also rejected the will of the people and state legislatures when it comes to defining marriage. The only true protection against an activist state judge in Virginia overturning current laws defining marriage is a constitutional amendment.

The arguments for protecting the traditional definition of marriage are many, but perhaps the most important is the well-being of children. More than 10,000 social-science studies prove that children are better off in every way in a stable, traditional home with a married mother and father. No compassionate society intentionally creates homes without both a mom and a dad, and that is exactly what same-sex marriage would do.

Frightening Virginians

In opposition to the amendment, those who wish to redefine marriage are relying on the same, tired arguments used across the nation. Opponents attempt to frighten Virginians into believing that the proposed amendment would somehow remove protections from domestic violence or void contracts between any two persons. These reckless arguments, however, have been consistently dismissed in the courts — two Ohio appellate courts, the Louisiana Supreme Court, and a Michigan circuit court, to name a few. By ignoring these decisions, same-sex marriage advocates are showing their disdain for the facts and instead are resorting to irresponsible scare tactics.

But Virginians need not look outside the state to dismiss the misinformation of amendment opponents, for they are reviving the same arguments used two years ago when the General Assembly passed the Marriage Affirmation Act. At that time homosexual political activist groups promised immediate lawsuits and even solicited for plaintiffs claiming contracts voided or visitation rights denied. We are still awaiting even the first lawsuit. We are waiting, because once again the argument is not legally valid.

Opponents of the amendment are now using the ridiculous argument that Virginia is somehow “rushing” the amendment through with little debate. It is important to remember that the amendment process in Virginia takes nearly two years. This amendment was first introduced more than a year ago. It was vigorously debated in Senate and House committees last year and then again on the floors of both legislative chambers. There has been the necessary intervening election of the entire House of Delegates and again this year the bill was considered by both the House and Senate and passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. The citizens of Virginia now have nine months to consider both sides of the debate before casting their ballot in November. Compare this to places such as Ohio and Texas that put amendments on the ballot and passed them in just a few months. To say that Virginia is somehow working in haste simply does not match up with reality.

Editorial Opposition

While same-sex advocates have lost the citizen vote in every state, they have had one group clearly on their side — the so-called mainstream media. The disconnect between editorialists in particular and the general public in every state that has passed a similar amendment has been extraordinary. In fact, of 107 newspapers’ editorial pages in the 15 states that have passed amendments in the past 18 months, a grand total of 13 supported the amendments, and four of those were in one state. That means more than 90 editorial pages opposed state constitutional amendments defining marriage in states where the citizens supported the amendments by an average of 70 percent!

Everywhere citizens have been given the opportunity to protect traditional marriage, they have done so decisively. It is very likely that Virginians will do the same.

Victoria Cobb is the executive director of the Family Foundation of Virginia.

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