James Dobson and his political lobbying group, Focus on the Family Action, were instrumental in keeping the homosexual marriage issue before voters. Below Dobson discusses what the November 2 vote meant, and what's ahead.
What role did the marriage amendments (and the homosexual marriage issue) play in getting votersparticularly Christiansto the polls?
There's no question that the effort to protect marriage certainly helped to energize and engage many Christians in the election process. I have been critical in the past of the church's reluctance to "dirty itself" in these so-called political battles, which are in reality profoundly moral in nature, but I believe this signals the dawn of a new day.
Evangelical congregations in particular appeared to turn a corner with this election. Thousands upon thousands of pastors across the nation helped to educate their members on the critical issues at stake and the vital importance of exercising their citizenship responsibilities, and I heartily applaud their efforts.
Same-sex issues have been emerging on the political scene for the past 30 years. Why did the issue galvanize votersparticularly Christiansduring this election?
There were a number of significant developments in the two or three years leading up to the election that awakened the public to the seriousness of this issue. Chief among them was the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November 2003 requiring the state legislature to recognize homosexual "marriages." That maneuver was itself made possible by the infamous Lawrence v. Texas decision a few months earlier by the U.S. Supreme Court, which claimed that the Constitution guaranteed a right to sodomy. There was also the creation of civil unions in Vermont, and the illegal move by the mayors of San Francisco and other localities to begin issuing "marriage licenses" to same-sex couples.
Mainstream Americans began understanding the urgency of these threats, and ultimately decided that they could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats.
There will be legal challenges to the state marriage amendments as well as challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This issue may eventually end up in the Supreme Court. If marriage between homosexuals were to be legalized, what do you think the outcome would be for America?
I believe there would be an irrepressible demand on the part of the populace for the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment in order to protect the institution of traditional marriage. The arrogance of the courts in suppressing government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" would be exposed for the usurpation that it is.
Why is marriage between persons of the same sex more important, detrimental, or sinful than heterosexual divorce? Or is it?
We certainly need to strengthen traditional marriages, but the legalization of gay "marriage" would hinder, rather than help, that effort. It is true that the divorce rate for heterosexual marriage is astronomical, but does that mean we should erase marriage laws altogether? We have laws against murder, but people still commit murder. Should we do away with murder laws? Of course not.
Just as no-fault divorce laws have undermined heterosexual marriage by eliminating the "till death do us part" component of that institution, the legalization of same-sex marriage would undermine it by eliminating the "husband and wife" component.
Are you in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment as drafted by the Alliance for Marriagewhich leaves the door open for civil unions in the states?
I'm certainly not in favor of civil unions; however, I support the wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment because I believe it is the best we can hope to achieve at this time.
How would permitting legally recognized unions between same-sex persons (under the heading "civil unions") be different from permitting "marriage" between persons of the same sex?
It has been argued that civil unions are really just same-sex "marriage" under a different name, and I am inclined to agree with that assessment. Nevertheless, so long as this debate continues, it is important that the traditional definition of marriage be identified and preserved at the federal level. Once that happens, we can concentrate our efforts on preventing the passage of civil unions on a state-by-state basis.
What is next for the grassroots movements that emerged during Election 2004?
Our primary objective in the coming years must be to fight for judicial reform, not only with regard to the Supreme Court, but also the federal and state courts. So long as activist judges continue to legislate from the bench and create laws, rather than interpret them, the freedoms and values we hold dear will be in jeopardy.
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An article about James Dobson's political organization, Focus on Family Action, is also available on our website: Separation of Ministry and Politics | In order to influence public policy successfully, Focus on the Family must quickly learn how to remove politicking from its ministry core. (July 15, 2004)
Christianity Today's full coverage of the marriage battle is collected on this page. It includes:
Banning Gay Marriage Is Not The Answer | Legal actions aren't loving if they're all we do, says the author of Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would. (Sept. 01, 2004)
Gay Marriage Roadblocks | California Supreme Court voids San Francisco unions as a federal judge says the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional. (Sept. 01, 2004)
Thirteen Bad Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage | Why the rhetoric doesn't stand up under scrutiny. (Aug. 26, 2004)
The Man Behind the Marriage Amendment | It's just as well that Matt Daniels loves a good fight, because he has a big one on his hands. (Aug. 25, 2004)
A Crumbling Institution | How social revolutions cracked the pillars of marriage. (Aug. 24, 2004)
What God Hath Not Joined | Why marriage was designed for male and female. (Aug. 20, 2004)
The Next Sexual Revolution | By practicing what it preaches on marriage, the church could transform society. (Aug. 27, 2003)
My Two Dads? Not in Florida | U.S. Circuit Court upholds ban on gay adoption (March 11, 2004)
Speaking Out: Why Gay Marriage Would Be Harmful | Institutionalizing homosexual marriage would be bad for marriage, bad for children, and bad for society. (Feb. 19, 2004)
Let No Law Put Asunder | A constitutional amendment defending marriage is worth the effort. (Jan. 26, 2004)
Massachusetts Court Backs Gay Marriage | Christians say gay activists will overturn marriage laws (Dec. 10, 2003)
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