OUR VIEW: Same-sex couples need civil unions (poll)

Wayne Laugesen Updated: December 16, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: December 16, 2010

The political arm of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family has relentlessly opposed gay marriage. It helped pass Amendment 43 in 2006, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. So much for religion defining marriage. Amendment 43 grants this authority to government. Don’t ask a minister, priest or rabbi about marriage; ask the Legislature and governor.

Heading toward a new Legislative session, Focus on the Family’s political arm, Citizen Link, plans to oppose a proposal for civil unions in Colorado. Mostly, the unions would facilitate civilized adjudication of property disputes when same-sex couples or other nonmarried couples break up.

“This is a steppingstone to one thing only, and that’s redefining marriage, and that has happened in other states,” said Citizen Link’s Jenny Tyree, as quoted in the Denver Post.

That’s an extreme, slippery-slope argument. It’s like the National Abortion Rights Action League opposing protection of unborn babies from violent crime because it’s a steppingstone to outlawing abortion.

Focus on the Family has been an asset to the country. It has provided support and guidance for Christians who desire to live more by the written word.

The organization’s downfall is the lobbying arm, which advocates the force of law to prevent others from living peacefully as they choose. By advocating government force, the organization invites advocacy of government control over religious lifestyles. It leads the way and invites opposition to expression of Christian traditions in public, such as manger scenes in December. It inspires a will to get back at Christians with a scouring of all Christian tradition from public view. Intolerance breeds intolerance.

It is impossible to reason how traditional, heterosexual marriages are threatened by other relationships among adults who would like to be married. Not long ago, some argued that a traditional marriage among two whites or two blacks would be threatened by another couple’s interracial marriage. It was the paranoid and impoverished construct of those who believed one couple’s good fortune was best maintained by another’s state-imposed deprivation. Experience shows us that one couple’s interracial marriage has exactly no effect on another couple’s same-race marriage.

But we aren’t even talking marriage. The obstacles to same-sex marriage in Colorado are nearly insurmountable. It was fine for churches to oppose same-sex couples, denouncing them as sinful and refusing to perform their weddings. But that freedom wasn’t enough for the political arm of Focus and several other religious institutions. They fought for and achieved blunt-force legal condemnation of same-sex marriage after Colorado survived 106 years without a constitutional amendment that defined marriage.

(Vote in poll to the right in red type. Must vote to see results. Thanks!)

Today, same-sex couples aren’t just denied sacramental marriage in private institutions that rightly uphold moral convictions. Today, they cannot conduct the ordinary business of just getting through life.

To obtain just a bit more freedom, State Sen. Pat Steadman wants to introduce a bill that would give same-sex couples the limited protection that comes with registering their relationships as civil unions. Steadman, D-Denver, is gay and in a same-sex relationship. He has no interest in threatening the relationships of same-sex couples. He acknowledges that voters have spoken, and same-sex marriage isn’t a viable option. He just wants a more manageable life.

It seems un-Christian-like to advocate force of law, when not needed to maintain the peace, merely to hold down those considered sinful by some religious sects. Jesus didn’t burden prostitutes and tax collectors with government force. He dined with them.

Furthermore, nothing could be less conservative than forcing the will of a majority on individuals who lead peaceful lifestyles they’ve chosen. Conservatives used to advocate limiting the role of government in private lives, leaving moral guidance to churches.

For the sake of a more-free state, and in the interest of a free market of lifestyle choices that allows religion to flourish, cut same-sex couples some slack. At least allow them the second-class opportunity to register their relationships as “civil unions” in a state that denies them marriage.

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