It's a moral issue: address it now
Rep. Ron Grantland, Guest columnist
Many pertinent issues were debated extensively during the recent presidential campaign. Of them, the concern over same sex marriage dominated political discussions both nationally and here at home.
While Alabama has been in the forefront of this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1998 that precluded same sex marriage, many of us still would like to see a more permanent prohibition against this growing national trend.
Next Tuesday, the first bill that will be considered by the Alabama House of Representatives is a constitutional ban on same sex marriage sponsored by Representative Yusef Salaam, D-Selma, titled the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.
This family protection issue has been made a top priority by the House Democratic Caucus for the 2005 Regular Session. I can't tell you this is the most important matter facing our state when problems of human suffering and need continue to plague our state. However, because of its polarizing nature, it is important that it be completed and put behind us so we can focus on the more pressing needs of our blessed state.
The Sanctity of Marriage Amendment has strong bi-partisan support. The vast majority of Alabamians believe there should be a constitutional amendment and I, too, hold this conviction.
My faith teaches me that marriage can only be between a man and woman. This core foundation of the traditional family unit must be preserved.
Does the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment reverse the erosion of the conventional family in our society? No, it does not. Does this bill help to reduce the ever-increasing rate of divorce? No, it does not. These family-threatening concerns remain and must be addressed.
A recent study found that 93 percent of juvenile delinquents in one state came from single parent homes and that children from single parent homes are four-times more likely to be poor. Given all of the publicity and discussion over protecting families and banning same sex marriage, we must, as a community, recognize there are many other, more pressing social issues affecting families and particularly affecting children.
While there is consensus in supporting the bill in the Legislature, there is disagreement as to when the amendment will appear on the ballot. House Democrats have proposed to place the issue on the first special, primary or general election.
We know that there will be a primary election in June 2006, which is the first scheduled election. Because this is a deep-seated moral issue, I, for one, believe the electorate of our state should address it as soon as possible.
However, many of my Republican collogues in the House want the bill to be on the ballot five months later. I cannot, in good conscious and in strong faith, support delaying this vote. How can one argue that we should delay enacting a constitutional amendment that affects the heart and soul of our family and our morality?
It is clear that my counterparts want to make the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment a political football. I think they are acting hypocritically. That may not be the politically correct thing to say, but it is how I feel.
There were too many constitutional amendments on the ballot this past November for the voters to adequately study them, as there often are during general elections. If the Legislature will begin placing these proposals on the first special, primary or general election ballots, then approximately half will fall on the primary ballot and half on the general election ballot. This will result in a better-informed electorate on what issues are presented for constitutional reform. The 2005 Regular Session is off to an excellent start. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your representative. If you need to contact me while I am in Montgomery during this session my telephone number is 334-242-7600.