Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rally for Love and Justice

This is an e-mail I sent to my friends and family about the Arizona "Marriage Protection" amendment and a rally we're holding against it.

Most but not all of my friends and loved ones are familiar to varying degrees with my involvement in equal rights for gay and lesbian people and same-sex couples. With some of you, it is a frequent topic of discussion. With others, I rarely mention it. Polite conversation is supposed to steer clear of sex, politics, and religion, but I hope you will forgive me for a moment for bringing up all three in one message. Whatever your feelings about same-sex marriage, I feel this issue is too important to not bring it to everyone's attention. As a Christian and as a political (moderate) conservative, I have grave concerns about what is going on in my state.

In Arizona, a coalition known as "Protect Marriage Arizona" is currently trying to get a so-called "marriage protection" amendment for the state constitution on the ballot for the November 7, 2006 election. (For my out-of-state friends, many other states are facing similar amendments.) This broadly-worded and vague amendment, however, will do nothing to protect marriage, but will take away existing rights from unmarried couples gay and straight. Quite simply, this amendment goes too far.

Click here for the text of the initiative.

On February 12, I will be speaking at a Rally for Love and Justice against this amendment in downtown Tucson. Not only that, my 8-year-old daughter, whose hero is Rosa Parks, has asked if she could speak, too, and the rally planners invited her to give her own speech with her name and bio in the program and everything! She wrote her speech all by herself and it made me cry (that's a purely objective view, of course!) ;) If you're in the area, please consider coming by to show your support or just to learn about the issues. If you're not in the area, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. e-mail me if you want more information, or click here for info on similar events around the country.

But first, some information on what this amendment could do if it passes.

In Ohio a similar amendment was used to argue that a man who beat up his live-in girlfriend could not be charged with domestic violence.

In states like Ohio, Michigan, Utah, and Missouri, state, county, city and school districts are facing lawsuits claiming that it is unconstitutional for them to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.

The Wall Street Journal argued two years ago that the federal marriage amendment and similar state amendments were bad for business.

Let me be clear: this amendment is not about gay marriage. A Defense of Marriage Act is already on the books in Arizona. It has been upheld in the courts. If this amendment fails, same-sex marriage will still be illegal in Arizona, but if it passes, hundreds of families will lose rights and protections because someone else has decided they don't have the right to be a family.

As a Republican, I see this amendment as too much Big Government. Tucson, Tempe, Phoenix, and Pima County, for example, all offer domestic partnership benefits to their employees, but if this amendment passes, these benefits may well become unconstitutional. Tucson also offers a domestic partnership registry to offer basic benefits to unmarried couples, gay and straight, such as hospital visitation. Why should the state decide for local governments on this issue?

As a Christian, I can't see this initiative as anything other than mean-spirited. Regardless of whether same-sex relationships are sinful or not, there is nothing Christlike in denying hospital visitation, health benefits, and making it easier to rip families apart. Jesus lambasted the Pharisees and Scribes for following the letter of the law while rejecting justice and mercy:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!"

Whether you live in Arizona or another state facing this controversial issue, please take the time to learn about all the consequences to unmarried couples gay and straight, and if this initiative is on the ballot on November 7, I urge you all to vote no.


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