By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
WAKE FOREST — The fate of marriage in America may be decided in the next 18 months, and North Carolina’s May 8 referendum could very well set the nation’s course. That was the message Wednesday at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and other religious and government leaders spoke out at a Marriage Amendment Forum.
“This is not a question of sexual freedom, it’s a question of religious freedom; this is not a question of copulation, it is a question of coercion. Make no mistake about it, this is not a debate about ‘live and let live,'” Land said. “The agenda of the homosexual community is to have their lifestyle and behavior normalized, and have same-sex ‘marriage’ normalized and to have those that disagree with it to be ostracized on the level of the Ku Klux Klan. That’s their goal.”
He challenged seminary students and others in the Binkley Chapel crowd to take advantage of this “propitious moment” in history by passing the Marriage Amendment and setting the tone for the issue of marriage at the national level.
“We have several states where this is up and you are the first,” he said of pending marriage protection votes, adding that the nation’s High Court will also be watching to see if North Carolina joins the 29 states already defining marriage as between one man and one woman in their constitutions.
“Make no mistake, those (Supreme Court) justices are watching what the people of North Carolina say about this issue,” he said. “… If we lose they will exercise their judicial imperialism. That’s what’s at stake.”
Land said the question is not one of gay rights, but a question of the definition of the basic building block of human society and whether we are going to allow it to be shattered.
“When people start trying to redefine marriage or to expand the institution of marriage beyond God’s definition of His institution, that’s above their pay grade,” he said.
Dr. Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern, said marriage is a procreatively structured social institution, and that the public interest in marriage has nothing to do with affirming private feelings. Countering the pro-homosexual framing of the argument as one of “equality” and “civil rights,” Heimbach said marriage laws offer equality now in that homosexuals are allowed the same opportunity to marry in the same way as anyone else. He said if marriage is radically redefined to be just a way of affirming private feelings, then it will completely deconstruct the institution as a meaningless personal matter with no social contribution.
Not only are same-sex relationships different from marriage, Tim Wilkins, executive director of Cross Ministries, said they lack the “essential ingredient that allows each person to complement the other.”
“The same-sex relationship is already unequal,” said Wilkins, who spent a decade in the homosexual lifestyle. “This is often presented as a cry for diversity when a same-sex relationship lacks the diversity it seems to promote.”
Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman for Vote FOR Marriage NC, told the crowd that when marriage is redefined in a state to become genderless, there are far-reaching legal consequences that spell “the beginning of the end for religious freedom.”
She said activists judges and legislatures have ushered in same-sex “marriage” in eight states and the District of Columbia without a vote of the people and that gay couples from those states moving to North Carolina could sue to have their marriage recognized here. Already a Guilford County suit filed in December 2011 is asking the court to overturn North Carolina’s marriage laws to dissolve the state’s licensing role, take ministers out of marriage ceremonies and allow same-sex “marriage.”
She said passing the Marriage Amendment is imperative, and that supporters should be aware of opponents’ tactics which include relabeling the issue as “Amendment One” to divorce it from marriage and claiming that it will harm children by robbing them of benefits.
House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) said the “parade of horribles” being promoted by detractors of the amendment include not only the idea that it will prevent private companies from offering domestic partner benefits, but that it would also interfere with hospital visitation rights, medical powers of attorney, trusts, etc.
He said the two-sentence amendment is clear in that it does not interfere with any contractual agreements. The amendment states, in part, that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
He said the most far-fetched claim against the Amendment is that it would somehow weaken the state’s domestic violence laws.
“These laws are not based upon a marriage or a quasi-marriage from another state,” said Stam. Instead, they deal with whether or not the victim and perpetrator live or have lived together in any capacity.
He said claims that affirming marriage as between one man and one woman would interfere with child custody cases are also false since decisions regarding child placement are based on the best interest of children, not on adult relationships.
Dr. Kenyn Cureton, vice president for Church Ministries at the Family Research Council, said proponents of same-sex “marriage” are well-organized, well-funded and will not stop “until we rise up, speak the truth in love and stop them.”
He said the FRC had been involved in the fight for marriage in all 29 states that have passed protection amendments and urged the crowd to take advantage of a number of resources from bulletin inserts to a voter impact tool kit to help spread the word about North Carolina’s Marriage Protection Amendment.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told the crowd that the “life-long, faithful, monogamous union of a man and wife provides a benefit to society that no other relationship possibly can.” He said this is why the government has an interest in marriage in the first place and that Christians cannot buy into the idea that they need to keep their views behind church doors or into the erroneous claim that the constitution bars religious influence on our laws.
“For thousands of years, we have legislated a truth, not based in the Bible alone, but also demonstrated by the design of our physical bodies and the laws of nature that men were made for women and vice versa — that marriage between one man and one woman benefits in exceedingly positive ways both sexes, our children, our economy, and the culture as a whole,” he said.
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist of Charlotte and president of the N.C. Baptist State Convention, led the forum, asking questions and introducing panelists. He asked former State Senator Jim Jacumin to offer closing remarks.
“God’s people must pass this Marriage Amendment; we’re either standing with God or saying it doesn’t matter,” Jacumin said. “We won’t get a second chance.”
To find out more about the Marriage Amendment, log onto www.voteformarriagenc.com.