August 29, 2007 – Vermont, Marriage and the Burden of Proof

August 29, 2007 – Vermont, Marriage and the Burden of Proof

Family Watch International

August 29, 2007

Vermont, Marriage and the Burden of Proof

Dear Friend of Families,Sharon Slater, President

The political showdown shaping up in Vermont over same-sex marriage could fundamentally change in a very positive way the nature of the debate in the United States over protecting traditional marriage.  

Vermont was the first U.S. state to recognize same-sex couples when it passed its “civil union” law in 2000, giving them essentially the same legal recognition as married couples.  Since then, same-sex marriage activists have been pushing to take the next step and legalize same-sex marriage. 

The latest effort in that campaign is the creation by the Democratic leadership in the state legislature of the “Commission on Family Recognition and Protection.”  This commission has been directed to investigate how Vermonters feel about legalizing same-sex marriage. 

Not surprisingly, the pro-homosexual legislative leadership stacked the commission with members who are all more or less supportive of the homosexual agenda.  The chairman is the former legislator who pushed through the civil union bill.  Another member is the senate sponsor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Most Vermonters have not been fooled by this clumsy and heavy-handed political ploy.  Certainly, the pro-marriage leaders in the state were not.  They knew from the makeup of the commission that its report to the legislature next April would support legalization.  They immediately dubbed it the “Kangaroo Commission” and called on all citizens to boycott it to avoid giving it even the semblance of credibility.

This was certainly an appropriate initial response.  But it is what they are planning to do in addition to the boycott that makes these developments so potentially significant.   

Homosexual activists and their allies are frequently successful in framing the marriage debate in terms of “equal rights.”  They claim certain “rights” based on their sexual behavior (though they never explain the origin of those claimed rights).  Since they cannot marry a person of the same sex (a prohibition that applies equally to everyone) they say their “rights” are being violated.  

Even though this argument does not hold up under even minimal critical analysis, it misleads many people so the activists keep trotting it out.  The Vermont Commission is clearly taking this tack.  In carrying out its assignment “to hear how Vermonters feel about taking the next step to full marriage equality,” the commission chairman will be primarily asking whether there are “any good reasons grounded in law or morality or ethics that point to why we shouldn’t do this?”

His characterization is also the typical tactic of trying to put the burden of proof on those of us determined to protect marriage.  In fact, the burden of proof always is squarely on those who are advocating social change.  They must make a persuasive case that the change they advocate will not result in net harm to society.  And when the change involves such a fundamental social institution as marriage, that burden is heavy indeed.

The Vermont pro-family and pro-marriage leadership is determined not to let the commission get away with either of these tactics.  Instead, they will be broadening the debate by educating Vermonters on what is really at stake.  As they say in their joint statement, “We respectfully submit genderless marriage advocates must soundly demonstrate that gay marriage offers the same proven benefits to society as traditional marriage, without doing harm to the existing institution of marriage, children or society at large.  To date, this essential requirement has not been – and we believe cannot be – satisfied.”

In other words, they are putting the burden of proof in a broadened debate where it belongs, on the commission and others advocating same-sex marriage. 

Their effort marks the first time at the state level that marriage defenders will be aggressively making the “social goods/social institutional” case in the public square.   Developed to its highest and most sophisticated state by Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation and an internationally recognized expert on marriage law, this approach fully captures what is truly at stake for any society contemplating legalization of same-sex marriage.

It has been extraordinarily effective in court.  Since the Massachusetts decision, no court that has considered Monte’s analysis has legalized same-sex marriage – eloquent testimony to its power.  (Marriage Law Foundation develops the amicus briefs that Family Watch files in marriage cases and we are proud to have a long and close association with this world-class group.  We have filed briefs in two pending marriage cases in Oklahoma and Rhode Island.)  

The marriage issue in Vermont will be in the national spotlight over the next eight months, and how the issue is framed there will likely affect the debate in other states as well.  

Family Watch is working closely with the Vermont pro-family groups to help them defend marriage in their state.  We will keep you apprised of developments since their efforts may well prove to be a decisive turning point in the fight to defend marriage in the U.S.

Sharon Slater
Sharon Slater

News Items of Interest

Virginia Supreme Court Urged to Hear Vermont Same-Sex Civil Unions Case

Oral arguments have begun in a complicated legal battle that may determine the future of an innocent child caught in a tangled same-sex union conflict in the U.S.  The battle is between the states of Virginia and Vermont in regard to same-sex unions and the right of biological parents versus the right of unrelated third parties.  Lisa Miller, the biological parent of a five-year-old daughter was a party to a legal civil union in 2000 in Vermont with Janet Jenkins.  The women were living in Virginia at the time of their civil union.  Miller became a Christian and left the relationship and the lesbian lifestyle.  Jenkins, who has no legal tie to the child, either biologically or through adoption, was granted “parental rights” by the Vermont Supreme Court.  The public interest law group, Liberty Counsel, is requesting that the Virginia court hear the case, uphold Virginia law which does not recognize same-sex relationships and terminate the parental rights of Janet Jenkins.  Read more here

U.S. Poll Shows Family Key to Happiness of Young People

A recent poll by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among American youth ages 13 to 24 showed that spending time with their family was the number one answer.  Nearly three-quarters of the youth polled said that their relationship with their parents makes them happy.  When asked who their heroes were, the number one answer was their mothers.  Read more here.
To see the complete results of the poll click here.

Botched Abortion Terminates Healthy Twin

When a 38-year-old woman in Milan, Italy carrying twins discovered that one had Down Syndrome, she elected to abort that child and carry its sibling to term.  However, the healthy twin was mistakenly aborted instead.  This has brought attention to the abortion debate in Italy and also to the concept of eugenics—the belief that the human race can be controlled by selective breeding.  Read more here.

Methodist Group Files Lawsuit to Protect Facility from Same-Sex Ceremonies

A Methodist group in the U.S. state of New Jersey has filed a federal lawsuit to protect them from being forced by the state to allow same-sex civil union ceremonies to be held in a pavilion that they own.  In February, New Jersey granted legal status to civil unions, but such same-sex unions are prohibited by the United Methodist Church.  Three same-sex couples who requested the use of the church’s pavilion for civil union ceremonies were turned down by the church.  Brian Raum of the public interest legal group Alliance Defense Fund said, “Religious groups have the right to make their own decisions without government interference.”  Read more here.

Misleading Reports Claim Abortion Pill ‘Safe’

Results of a study on the RU486 abortion pill are being misinterpreted by many journalists who are claiming that the pills are completely “safe,” according to a report by Operation Rescue.  Claims are also being made that that RU486 does not affect future pregnancies.  What the study actually shows is that RU486 is as safe as surgical abortion.  However, research shows that women who have had abortions have a greater risk of miscarriage and infertility than women who haven’t had abortions, and it is incorrect to label RU486 as “safe.”  Read more here

Thousands March in Brazilian Abortion Protest

Thousands of protesters marched through the capital of Brazil recently in response to proposed legislation which would permit more abortion in that country.  Two bills are being considered by the Chamber of Deputies; one which would legalize abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities and another would which would eliminate penalties for “therapeutic abortions,” a catchall term to describe abortions supposedly done for health purposes.  In addition, three pro-abortion bills are being considered in the Senate.  Read more here

Businesses Profiting from Child Porn

Research indicates that one in three girls and one in seven boys in the United States are sexually abused.  Child abuse materials posted on the Internet are rampant, with more than 80 percent originating in the U.S. and Russia.  Child porn Web sites often require payment with credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard, which receive a transaction fee each time one of their cards is used, thus generating profits from child pornography.  Visa and MasterCard claim that they take child porn seriously and shut down sites as they discover them, however, it is nearly impossible to keep on top of the growing child porn industry.  Read more here. 


Thoughtful Commentary on Family Issues

In her essay, “The Devastation of Divorce,” Trish Berg gives a poignant personal account of the impact her parents’ divorce had on her as a young girl and on through to adulthood.  She cites disturbing statistics on the children of divorce in the U.S. and summarizes the major ways divorce affects children.  She also suggests basic steps to help children cope with divorce. Read the entire essay here.


forward this on to others!

If this was forwarded on to you, you can subscribe

yourself by clicking
. To unsubscribe, click