Same-sex ‘marriage’ debate headed back to Alaska

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Public ‘education campaign’ set to begin soon

By JOEL DAVIDSON

CatholicAnchor.org

In 1998, Alaska became the first state in the union to amend its constitution and define marriage as between one man and one woman. A renewed effort, however, is now underway to build support for same-sex “marriage” in Alaska and across the country.

Alaskans Together for Equality is a political nonprofit pushing for legal recognition and specific rights for Alaskans who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

In a recent spring newsletter Alaskans Together board President Elias Rojas highlighted his group’s activities over the past several months and announced that the gay rights movement in Alaska is poised to launch a public campaign for same-sex “marriage.”

HISTORY OF ACTIVISM

In 2007, Alaskans Together urged voters to oppose  a statewide advisory ballot asking if the Alaska Constitution should be amended to explicitly reserve spousal employment benefits to the married partners of state employees.

The proposed amendment was a direct attempt by traditional marriage advocates to rebuff a 2005 Alaska Supreme Court ruling, which mandated employment benefits for same-sex partners of public employees.

While marriage in Alaska is still defined as the union of one man and one woman, the court’s 2005 ruling declared that same-sex partners and married men and women are “similarly situated” in life.

Critics of the decision said the court blatantly defied the 1998 statewide constitutional marriage amendment, in which 68 percent of Alaskans approved the traditional definition of marriage.

Traditional marriage supporters said a second amendment was needed to ensure that Alaska did not begin to construe same-sex partnerships as legally equivalent to marriages between men and women.

While 52 percent of Alaskans voted in favor of establishing a second constitutional amendment in 2007, the proposed amendment never made it out of the state legislature for a vote by the citizens.

TRENDS IN ALASKA

In the recent Alaskans Together newsletter, Rojas said the gay rights group recently voted to join the “Freedom to Marry” national campaign in support of same-sex “marriage.”

“It’s a public education campaign that will talk about our rights and tell the story of why gays and lesbians want to get married,” Rojas wrote, adding that the group will “begin rolling out this campaign in the coming months.”

The Freedom to Marry Web site explains that its goal is to persuade the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to grant full marriage recognition to gays and lesbians.

To achieve that goal the group is first attempting to “secure the freedom to marry in a critical mass of states and grow majority support across the country.”

The Freedom to Marry Web site notes that in the last decade same-sex “marriage” has been legalized in five states and Washington, D.C.

In the Alaskans Together newsletter, Rojas highlighted a 2010 New York Times poll suggesting that approximately 45 percent of Alaskans now support same-sex “marriage.”

In recent years, a number of national polls have shown steady, growing support across the country for same-sex “marriage” and same-sex civil unions.

WHERE CATHOLICS ARE

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” however, a growing number of U.S. Catholics appear to favor same-sex “marriage.” A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute suggested that 54 percent of U.S. Catholics who attend Mass weekly now support same-sex “marriage” or civil unions.

LifeSiteNews.com reported that some have recognized the emerging data as a wake-up call to Catholic pastors who “have fallen silent rather than tackle the increasingly controversial issue of sexual morality.”

VATICAN WEIGHS IN

The Vatican has recently weighed in on the growing trend to recognize same-sex “marriage” and approve homosexual acts — including at the United Nations.

A state should never punish or deprive a person of any legitimate human right based on the person’s sexual thoughts and feelings, Vatican representative Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva March 22.

However, he emphasized that “States can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors.”

He decried a “disturbing trend” of growing intolerance towards those who have moral opposition to homosexual behavior.

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” said Archbishop Tomasi. “When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatized, and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted.”

In 2008, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, said that the Holy See opposes recognizing homosexuality as a new human right out of concern that such a right would lead to forcing nations to recognize same-sex “marriage.”

The Catholic Church teaches against unjust discrimination and violence against people with homosexual inclinations. But the church also states that ending discrimination and violence against those persons should not mean granting new, special rights.

The Catholic Church insists that all persons with homosexual tendencies be treated with respect and dignity, while homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “[Homosexual men and women] must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

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