W. Va. Churches to Rally Support for Marriage Amendment

Gay rights activists are pushing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in several states and West Virginia could be next, according to a pro-family group.

Jeremy Dys, president of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said a marriage amendment is needed because state laws defending marriage as one man and one woman increasingly have come under attack by state and federal courts.

The group is encouraging churches to take part in a pro-marriage event on March 1 where they can address the importance of the marriage amendment to congregants.

"Stand4Marriage Sunday is an opportunity for pastors to articulate the definition of marriage and make congregants aware of the threat the radical homosexual agenda poses to the definition of marriage and religious liberty," said Dys.

Participants are being asked to do four things: pray four minutes a day for marriages in the state and for their leaders, give $4 to efforts defending marriage, write four legislators to express support for the marriage amendment, and pass the message to their family and friends.

Hundreds of churches in the state are expected to participate in Stand4Marriage Sunday, according to FPC.

At least 30 states, including California, have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

While the West Virginia's Defense of Marriage Act currently protects the state from recognizing out-of-state gay marriages, the law is susceptible to legal challenge, according to Dys.

He cited the case of California, where the state Supreme Court overturned a Defense of Marriage Act that was passed by 61 percent of the voters in 2000. The Court is now slated to determine the fate of a marriage amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, which was passed by California voters in November.

"In West Virginia, same-sex advocates could easily launch the state and its churches into legal chaos," states a promotional video for West Virginia's marriage amendment. "They know that what was done in California was never intended to stay in California."

"A weekend trip to California for a West Virginia same-sex couple plus a pro-bono ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) attorney could easily become a nightmare for marriage in West Virginia," suggests the video.

Another possibility is that the state High Court could redefine marriage in its ruling in a same-sex adoption case, according to FPC. Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court will decide whether a baby girl will stay with a lesbian couple that wants to adopt her or remain with a traditional family.

"The pending same-sex adoption case here could leave five unaccountable judges in Charleston to alter the definition of marriage," says the video.

Gov. Joe Manchin said he supports the traditional definition of marriage but felt that an effort to codify the definition in the state Constitution was "overkill," the Register-Herald reported. He told the local paper that he would call a special session immediately if he ever felt anyone was putting the state's marriage law to the test.

Dys noted, however, "Believing, as many do, that marriage is safe from redefinition just because this is West Virginia creates the complacency that opponents of marriage depend upon in order to accomplish their agenda."

He further cited other examples of marriage laws under attack as reasons why a constitutional ban on gay marriage is needed in West Virginia. Challenges include a pending Supreme Court decision in Iowa on marriage and proposed legislation to recognize same-sex marriage in New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and other states.

The video, which will be shown by churches during Stand4Marriage Sunday, calls on West Virginians to "legally define marriage now before costly litigation makes it politically and practically impossible."

"The government should promote and encourage strong families," Dys said. "The union of a man and a woman has been the fundamental social unit in every society, and strong families are the foundation of strong communities."