Just Defending Marriage? Don’t Believe it!
Here in Colorado, there are two items on the ballot which deal with these issues. The first, Referendum I, provides legal protections for gay couples in the state of Colorado such as inheritance rights, the right to visit each other in the hospital, make medical decisions, and make funeral arrangements. The organization behind the referendum, Coloradans for Fairness and Equality, insists that the referendum is not marriage but basic legal rights.
The other item Colorado voters will decide is Amendment 43 of the state constitution. The purpose of the amendment is to prohibit gay marriage by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Christian Right organizations such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family are behind Amendment 43, which should come to no one’s surprise. Dobson’s efforts do not stop at supporting Amendment 43, however. Initially Dobson’s organization did not take a position on Referendum I but it did not take long before simply defending marriage was no longer enough.
It seems to me that supporting both measures would be a reasonable compromise position for both sides of the issue. Gay couples get the legal rights they want and the definition of the traditional marriage is preserved. A September 19th Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll shows the majority of Coloradans support such a compromise with 58% supporting Referendum I and 52% supporting Amendment 43.
James Dobson and co. are in no mood for such a compromise. Allowing gay couples register as domestic partners to have the same inheritance rights, make funeral arrangements, or visit each other in the hospital still apparently somehow undermines traditional marriage in their view. This is a point-of-view I simply do not understand. A marriage is only as strong as the individuals involved. My marriage to my wife will not suffer one iota if my neighbor decides to marry or register as domestic partners with someone of the same sex.
To better understand Focus on the Family’s position on this issue, one really has to take a look at the broader picture of their political activity. This Christian Right organization was behind the recent increase in FCC broadcast ‘indecency’ fines. Trusting parents to use the V-chip, which practically every television made within the last decade now has, is no longer good enough. No, Dobson wants to take that responsibility away from parents and tell you and me what we can or cannot watch on television. Dobson’s group also opposed the Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales vs. Oregon which upheld the ‘Death with Dignity Law’ which was passed by voters. I thought Dobson only wanted the courts to support the will of the people! Focus on the Family also supported the flag desecration amendment, increased laws against adult pornography (.pdf), and opposed legalizing gambling, and other such activities which are commonly apart of a free society that they view as a threat to ‘Christian’ America.
On the organization’s ‘About Us’ page, Dobson summarizes his ministry’s goals:
For nearly 40 years I have been watching a nonstop, withering attack from social and political liberals that is tearing families apart, undermining marriage, belittling Christian values and endangering our children. Most of what we as Christians believe is now either viewed as passé — or openly ridiculed. It’s time to say, “Enough is enough!”
If we don’t act now, most of what we hold dear will be trampled in the name of political correctness. But incredibly, Americans, and Christians in particular, have not responded to protect our most precious rights, liberties and beliefs. I want to address this apathy. And the only way to do it is through an agile, aggressive cultural and family advocacy organization like Focus on the Family Action.
How far is Dobson willing to go using the force of government to protect Christians from being ‘openly ridiculed’ or protect them from having their values ‘belittled’? Apparently gay marriage or even civil unions ridicule and belittle Christians as do the other previously mentioned activities. It is impossible for me to sit idly by while Dobson and his ilk attempt to use their political power to undermine the Bill of Rights and attempt to take individual choices away from American citizens. What is he so afraid of? Is he afraid his fellow Christians might partake of these ‘sinful’ activities? Has he no regard for the Lockean philosophy of life, liberty, and property?
Clearly, this disconnect makes it difficult for Dobson to understand why he and his followers are so often subject of ridicule. If Dobson were content with broadcasting his message on his radio show or in his articles, perhaps this ridicule would be less deserved. But the fact is Dobson and others insist that it is their job to make their moral code the law of the land; therefore, he deserves every ounce of ridicule he is receiving. No, the Christian Right are not ‘just defending marriage,’ they are trying very hard to bring about a Christian theocracy in America (whether they will admit it or not) and the gay marriage issue is but one of the many avenues they are taking to reach that goal.