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Christian Citizenship Council
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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Dueling Marriage Propositions”

One of the most grievous things I’ve observed and personally experienced amongst sincere Christians is the destruction of a friendship over a voting issue.  Although this happens more often when elective office is the focus, the duel shaping up over competing marriage propositions has the same potential.

Don’t get me wrong, even the Apostle Paul said disagreements are not necessarily bad since they can be a means of showing what is best (1 Cor 11:19).  However, sincere Christians on opposite sides of an issue can easily become convinced that their stance is the righteous one, and the other misguided at best.  Motives can begin to be questioned in an ungodly way, and a person’s ultimate loyalties become suspect.  One side can deem itself “principled”, while the other is looked down upon as only “pragmatic”, one thinks they alone stand on biblical high ground, and the other side are compromisers.  Bottom line, both sides can view themselves as right, and the other as wrong, or worse yet – in sin. 

The current two-pronged approach to “saving” traditional marriage in California was highlighted in last months Good News Etc. (   The California Family Coalition approach ( is quite different from that taken by the Campaign for Children and Families (  Both initiatives want to change the California Constitution instead of just state statues relating to family.  Both have attorneys who sincerely believe their approach is the best to withstand judicial scrutiny.  Both have accumulated long lists of impressive endorsements, but neither has yet gathered sufficient resources to counter the media barrage expected prior to any actual vote.  Both are targeting the Fall 2006 general election.  Both have the same goal in mind, reversing our State’s slide toward legalizing same-sex marriage while strengthening traditional marriage. 

However, closer examination finds some significant differences.  The CFC proposal is simpler and easier to understand by voters, has higher positive poll results when actual language is used, is already gathering signatures, and has enormous support by current state legislators (Assembly and Senate Republicans) and organizations instrumental in the prior passage of Prop 22.  The CCF proposed language is much longer, more detailed and complex, can be perceived negatively by voters as removing marriage “rights” currently granted to domestic partners, has been delayed getting to the point of gathering signatures, and has not generated convincing support in polls.

For several reasons, I think only one proposition should be pursued.  First, qualifying an initiative is incredibly difficult and expensive to do.  The finances and labor required to qualify two similar initiatives will divide precious resources and make it less likely either will ultimately be on the ballot.  Second, if both qualify for the ballot, the voting publics natural tendency is to only vote for the “best” one.  This has the natural affect of reducing the probability of either one passing since it splits the support.  Third, if both get on the ballot and both fail to pass, the effect will be devastating to any future hope of saving marriage and curbing the legalizing of same-sex pseudo-marriage.  Fourth, resources needed to counter the expected attack ads will be divided as each camp tries to muster support – while the same-sex marriage proponents can easily advertise against both Propositions at the same time.  And fifth, attempts at reconciling the two initiatives into a single one has not been successful and doesn’t look to be a viable option.  Given the fact there is NO legislation or Proposition language that can be made “bullet-proof” in our current judicial activist environment, the Christian community will have to decide how to best invest their resources (time, talents and treasures). 

My personal assessment is that the CFC version has a greater probability of qualifying for the ballot, and a greater probability of being passed.  The text of the CCF version leaves less to judicial imagination but also has far less probability of qualifying, and if it does, the general voting public will not approve it.  What does this mean in practical terms?  It means we need to choose.  A purest will like the more detailed, explicit CCF language, but will have to accept the practical reality that the general voting public will not be as supportive of a difficult to understand initiative.  To increase the probability of achieving our objective, we need to appeal to the broadest base we can.  For this, and the other reasons outlined above, I support the CFC approach, and only the CFC approach.  At this point I believe any other combination decreases our opportunity to change the state Constitution.  In essence, this is a risk management problem where I’m compelled to choose the approach that comes closest to balancing my public policy goals with the highest probability of success. 

Will there be sincere believers who disagree with me?  Of course.  This is where we need to acknowledge the hard realities of the politics and tactics needed to sway the general voting public to support our causes instead of relying on a miracle to occur.  If your analysis and conclusions differ from mine, my prayer is that it will not result in harm to our relationship in Christ.  After all, we share much more in common through our mutual faith in Christ than we ever will in this world of politics. 

- Frank Kacer

First published as a Guest Commentary in the November 2005 issue of Good News Etc.