By Matthew D. Staver
President and General Counsel, Liberty Counsel
Vice President of Law and Policy, Liberty University
The 2004 election has energized people of faith and social conservatives with an overwhelming mandate on traditional marriage and morality. Every politician must hear the message of the American people loud and clear: If you don’t vote right on marriage, then you may want to look for another job.
This year, state constitutional marriage amendments passed in all 13 states in which they were on the ballot: AR (75 percent), Georgia (77 percent), Kentucky (75 percent), Louisiana (78 percent), Michigan (59%), Mississippi (86%), Missouri (72%), Montana (66 percent), North Dakota (73 percent), Ohio (62 percent), Oklahoma (76 percent), Oregon (57 percent) and Utah (66 percent).
The constitutional amendment in Oregon now ends the court case that had ruled against the marriage laws. The challenge to the state’s marriage laws, brought by homosexual activists, is pending at the Oregon Supreme Court.
In light of the amendment to the state’s constitution, the lawsuit will have to be dismissed. Homosexual advocacy groups poured money into Oregon, thinking this was the state they had a chance to gain a win for same-sex marriage. They were wrong.
The biggest news in the Senate races is the defeat of Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Mr. Daschle is the one who orchestrated the efforts to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment in July. His 26-year career that began in 1978 was ended by Republican John Thune, and the defining issue in the race was once again traditional marriage. Mr. Thune supports a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage, while Mr. Daschle has opposed it. Mr. Daschle’s defeat marks the first time since 1952 that a Senate party leader lost reelection.
The House fared just as well as the Senate on marriage. Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who pioneered the move in the House to pass a constitutional amendment on marriage, won reelection. Despite the fact she was targeted by national groups because of her pro-traditional marriage position, she sailed to a clear victory. Rep. John Hostettler, who sponsored a bill to prevent federal courts from striking down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, also won reelection. The net gain in the House by Republicans is also five seats.
President George W. Bush received more popular votes than any other presidential candidate in history, with more than 60 million popular votes. One of the most important issues for voters nationwide was marriage and morality. By morality, I mean abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which destroys a developing human life.
The well-known phrase used against George H. W. Bush when he ran for reelection, “It’s the economy, stupid,” could be paraphrased in favor of George W. Bush for all the social and Hollywood liberals as follows: “It’s marriage and morality, stupid.”
This election is a mandate on marriage. With 13 states passing constitutional amendments to preserve marriage, the defeat of anti-marriage Daschle, and the reelection of every candidate who supported traditional marriage, the message has been sent loud and clear.
This groundswell of support for marriage will carry us forward in the quest to amend the United States Constitution to preserve traditional marriage.
Obviously, the four liberal judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did not anticipate that their decision to sanction same-sex marriage would end up causing a revolution on marriage and morality. Yet, that’s exactly what has happened.
While four million evangelical Christians failed to vote in 2000, in November 20 percent of the voters described themselves as evangelical Christians. That’s one out of every five voters.
Marriage & Morality
One network commentator attributed the evangelical voter turnout to the strategy of Karl Rove. However, Mr. Rove did not get out the evangelicals; marriage and morality did. This year we heard from many national religious leaders about the importance of the election on marriage and morality. We saw more Christian pastors than ever stand up in their pulpits to urge the church to vote. This year we saw the beginning of pastors being cured of what I have termed “moral laryngitis.”
With George W. Bush winning re-election and 55 Senate seats being controlled by Republicans, the president will be able to appoint anywhere from one to four justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. This aspect of the election is by far the most significant. The future of the Supreme Court has become even more critical with the news that Chief Justice William Rehnquist has thyroid cancer.
The religious liberty defense movement, where Christian lawyers defend religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family, is only 15 years old.
Liberty Counsel was founded in 1989 as one of the first such religious liberty groups. In contrast, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded in the 1920s. Thus, through the decades of the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, the ACLU faced absolutely no opposition.
Not until the late 80s and early 90s was there any opposition to the ACLU on behalf of Christians. During the past 15 years, a lot of progress has been achieved. Through the courts, many brand new religious liberty precedents have been established.
The so-called “wall of separation of church and state” myth has begun to crumble. The 1973 abortion decision known as Roe v. Wade came within one vote of being overturned in 1992.
All this progress could have been obliterated had John Kerry become president. Mr. Bush will have the potential to shape the future of the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years. Now that President Bush has been elected by a marriage and morality mandate, and since that same mandate also gave him more friendly seats in the Senate, we must move the battle for the heart and soul of America forward to ensure that the next Justices on the High Court adhere to the values of the majority of Americans.
These justices must understand the rule of law, and must know the difference between the judiciary and the legislative bodies of government. They must also understand that our Constitution is not putty to be molded by individual ideological opinion, but that it sets forth immutable principles rooted in the best of our Western legal tradition.
A Godly Reprieve
Our gracious God has given us a reprieve. Our heads rested on the chopping block, but the impending death sentence of marriage and morality has been annulled.
We now must use the next four years to preserve marriage and morality and to secure Justices on the United States Supreme Court who will support the rule of law.
The election is a clean sweep on marriage and morals. The effort to amend the U. S. Constitution to preserve traditional marriage will move full-steam ahead.
Although the battle for the U.S. Supreme Court is not over, we now have the opportunity to appoint justices who will judge — not legislate — from the bench. This election sets the future course of the U.S. Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years. Marriage, morality and the sanctity of human life were the real winners in this election. The people have spoken. The politicians must now listen or seriously consider finding other employment.
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