We need a national marriage amendment and we need it now. We need it before any of the current seekers of the White House have the opportunity to shape the public debate. Hillary Clinton has vowed she will never sign legislation to protect traditional marriage. Barack Obama said in an interview in The Advocate, a leading homosexual rights publication, that if he is elected president he will work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). John McCain has made it clear he believes marriage is a "states rights" issue. For that reason, he has declared that he will never support a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.
But what will happen if marriage is left up to the states? Do we have any examples of what might happen if states continue to pass conflicting laws concerning marriage? The current conflict between Virginia and Vermont may well serve as a harbinger of what is to come if we continue to refuse to address marriage at the federal level. Miller vs. Jenkins, a case before the Virginia Supreme Court, involves the struggle between Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins. They are former homosexual lovers who, in 2000, left Virginia and entered into a civil union in Vermont. They wanted children so Lisa agreed to be artificially inseminated so they could start a family with two mommies. Shortly after their union Lisa gave birth to Isabella, who is now six years old.
Not long after Isabella was born, Janet became abusive. Lisa, stunned by the drastic turn of events in her life, turned to and embraced a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The relationship between Lisa and Janet ended and the battle for Isabella's future began. Janet won round one in Vermont convincing the state Supreme Court to award her parental rights based on the states civil union laws. The high court considered Janet to be a full marital partner and therefore deserving of full parental rights. The court reached this decision even though Janet has no blood tie to Isabella and no adoption papers were ever filed. Lisa's fitness as a mother is not in question. She is the biological mother and yet the Vermont Supreme Court believes the civil union law is enough to link Janet to Isabella in a bond more viable than the bond of biological birth.
Lisa and Isabella are back in Virginia, where Lisa has petitioned the court to grant her full custody. Virginia has one of the strongest laws in the country prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions. Based on the strength of that law, it is likely the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in Lisa's favor. If it does, the case will automatically go to the United States Supreme Court. If the Virginia high court rules against Lisa it is likely the case will still end up before the Supreme Court. Either way, the case will test and perhaps ultimately decide the validity of the marriage laws of every state in the union.
Mathew D. Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University's School of Law said, "This case is exceptionally important because the future of Isabella hangs in the balance. Her future will be to either remain with her biological mother, Lisa Miller, or potentially be ripped away from her mom and placed in a lesbian household and paraded as a political trophy of the homosexual agenda. This case is also important because states must also have the sovereign authority to maintain their marriage policy as the union of one man and one woman, while rejecting same-sex unions."
In short, the civil union chickens have come home to roost. Many argued when Vermont passed its civil unions law that the effect would be limited to Vermont. I wonder if those who made this argument really doubted this day of reckoning would come. The day when every law in the books in every state designed to protect traditional marriage would be challenged by a conflict such as this. If Virginia loses its sovereignty in the area of the laws of marriage, the sovereignty of every other state to define marriage will be in jeopardy.
Abraham Lincoln faced the prospect of a divided nation and he understood perfectly that no nation divided over a monumental moral issue would long endure. In his much quoted "House Divided" speech delivered in Springfield, Illinois, on June 16, 1858, Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved….I do not expect the house to fall….but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other." That is the choice before us today concerning same-sex marriage. Either by edict of the United States Supreme Court or by the advance or attrition of common sense and biblical morality, we will one day become a nation united concerning marriage.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.