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CNN Exchange: Commentary

Dobson: Media provides cover for assault on traditional marriage

By James C. Dobson
Special to CNN
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Editor's note: James C. Dobson is founder and chairman of Focus on the Family Action. He has a Ph.D. in child development and is author of the best-selling book, "Bringing Up Boys." He's currently working on a follow-up, "Bringing Up Girls."

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- On June 7, the U.S. Senate voted for a second time on an amendment to define marriage in the U.S. Constitution as being exclusively between one man and one woman.

Again this year, the amendment failed to pass by a wide margin, falling 18 votes shy of a required two-thirds majority. The final tally was 49 in favor, 48 opposed.

Rarely has there been a greater disconnect between members of the Senate and the American people who put them in power. With the help of the media, which laid down "cover" by claiming voters didn't care about marriage, 40 Democrats, one Independent and seven Republicans turned their backs on this most basic social institution.

Let's examine the claim that traditional marriage lacks support in the court of public opinion. As it always does when conservative issues are being debated, the liberal press produced a series of trumped-up polls indicating the issue was of no interest nationally. However, there was another "poll" that the media completely ignored. In fact, there were 19 of them. They represented the 19 states in which voters overwhelmingly defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Not one state has chosen by popular vote to permit marriages between homosexuals. Support for the family has been affirmed in every instance.

In Mississippi, traditional marriage was approved by a whopping 86 percent majority. Other state votes registered similar wide margins: Nevada (70 percent), Arkansas (75 percent), Georgia (77 percent), Kentucky (75 percent), Louisiana (78 percent), Nebraska (70 percent), Missouri (71 percent), Montana (66 percent), North Dakota (73 percent), Ohio (62 percent), Michigan (59 percent), Oklahoma (76 percent), Utah (66 percent), Kansas (70 percent) and Texas (75 percent). Even states considered to be more liberal voted for traditional marriage, including Hawaii (69 percent), Alaska (68 percent) and Oregon (57 percent).

Indeed, on the day before 48 senators bailed on marriage, a 20th state voted on its own constitutional amendment. It was Alabama, which supported traditional marriage by 81 percent to 19 percent! A search of the database Nexis revealed that not one reference to this dramatic vote in Alabama was published in the print versions of The New York Times or Washington Post. There was virtually no mention of the story in other national newspapers. Yet, each of them devoted considerable coverage to the Senate's defeat of the Marriage Protection Amendment.

CNN and the mainstream televised news networks uttered hardly a peep about the Alabama decision. Why was the issue buried? Because the "poll" in Alabama and 19 other states didn't match the template put forward by those who wanted the amendment to be crushed. Their bias against the family is breathtaking.

As for the senators who voted against the amendment, the excuses they gave were pitiful. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island, Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minnesota, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, and many others thought they had the perfect alibi. They claimed that the issue should be handled at the state level. What hypocrisy!

All of these senators are smart enough to know that, first, it would create utter chaos to have 50 different definitions of marriage in one country, where every state is required by the Constitution to support the laws of the other 49. Come on, Senator McCain and company. You and your colleagues know better than that.

Second, senators wanting the states to define marriage are fully aware that the people will not be permitted to make their own decisions. Arrogant activist judges, most of them appointed by President Bill Clinton or President Jimmy Carter, will simply overturn the will of the electorate.

It has already happened in Nebraska, Georgia and Louisiana. Furthermore, nearly 20 cases in 10 states are currently pending that challenge the traditional definition of marriage. For example, a federal judge in Washington state is considering a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And finally, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in Lawrence v. Texas, made it clear that he and his colleagues are likely to redefine marriage when given an opportunity.

The senators who voted against marriage this month knew exactly what they were doing. The truth is they don't give a hoot about the traditional family. The majority of them have voted repeatedly to weaken or undermine this great institution. Check the record.

Most of them consistently supported the marriage penalty tax, which for 32 years (1969 to 2001) imposed a heavier financial burden on moms and dads struggling to feed and nurture their children. Liberal senators are still trying to re-impose that outrageous surcharge even today.

So where does the issue go from here? Time will tell. It took William Wilberforce more than 30 years to bring about an end to Britain's slave trade in the 1800s. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of a protracted victory.

If the battle to protect marriage takes even five more years, liberal judges and activists will have destroyed this 5,000-year-old institution, which was designed by the Creator, Himself. Even now, they are close to achieving that coveted objective.

I ask my fellow Americans to note the senators who did and did not defend marriage in its hour of need, and then to "vote their consciences" in 2006 and 2008. If large numbers of them do so, there could be some new faces in the Congress soon.

The angst of voters could also result in the election of a president who will fight for the preservation of the family. That would be sweet, indeed.

What is your take on this commentary? E-mail us

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer. This article is part of a series of occasional opinion pieces on CNN.com that offer a broad range of perspectives that express a variety of thoughts and points of view.

Your responses

CNN.com asked readers for their thoughts on James Dobson's commentary. We received a lot of excellent responses. Below you will find a small selection of those e-mails, some of which have been edited for length and spelling.

Hear! Hear! First smart thing I've read in a very long time.
Kathy, Birmingham, Alabama

James Dobson says the country wants marriage between a man and a woman and faults senators for not listening to their districts. But what if it were reverse? What if Americans did want gay marriage allowed? He'd fault the American citizens and be angry at senators for going against "traditional family."
Josh, Columbus, Ohio

James Dobson is right on. Even though I live in conservative Oklahoma we do business from coast-to-coast and this is one issue I have found very little disagreement on except from "gay agenda" friends. I wish Washington representatives would truly reflect the majority of their electorate. What a shock and surprise that would be!
David McReynolds, Edmond, Oklahoma

The media is not biased against family; it's biased against bigotry and discrimination. As any decent, compassionate person should be.
Meriwether Broaddus, Richmond, Virginia

Wow -- Kudos to you for: 1) Publishing the piece and 2) Having the guts to post its link on your home page. Not a CNN fan but I love it when media prints opposing views. It lends credibility to your news organization
Wes Perry, Methuen, Massachusetts

Whose marriage needs protecting from homosexuals? Not mine, certainly. As far as the state is concerned, marriage is a contract. It's not the job of any government official to say whether or not it gets God's stamp of approval. That's for religions to decide, and even Christian churches are not unanimous on the subject.
James, Arlington, Virginia

Excellent! One of the best commentaries I have read on the CNN web site. It contains truth, plain truth. The media views its job to promote their agenda. Reporting the news is secondary.
Paul, Appleton, Wisconsin

Here's the thing. If you don't want to marry a person of the opposite sex, don't. If you do, you should be allowed to. No it is not the same as dating your sister or a dog. Science has proven that being gay is no different from being blonde. It is pre-determined.
Logan, New York, New York

Thanks for speaking the mind of the majority in America. Since when does Congress think our votes won't matter when it comes to marriage? Wake up senators, your days are numbered.
Donna, Montgomery, Alabama

In all the arguments regarding gay marriage I have yet to hear how exactly this impacts heterosexual marriage. James Dobson raises the tired old "defense of marriage" cliche but never says how or why it needs defending. Gay marriage actually would strengthen the institution of marriage by making it the vehicle by which all families are structured.
Steve Marchillo, Claremont, California


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James C. Dobson says lawmakers are turning their backs on traditional marriage.

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