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Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2004/ 20 Shevat, 5764

Suzanne Fields

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'Til death do us party | Cupid's working overtime this Valentine's Day, and he's getting a little help from his friends, including George W. Bush. The president has asked Congress for more than $1 billion to promote, stabilize and strengthen marriage, especially for low-income Americans. But it's the culture that needs help.

We could probably learn a thing or two from Amelia Limpert, age 100, who was married for 82 years. Her husband died the other day at 102. They broke off their engagement three times. But one day in 1921 they jumped into George's Model T Ford and eloped. They got no help from the government - it never occurred to anyone then that the government had any business with Cupid - but society at large imposed expectations that seem quaint today.

Liberals have dismissed the president's concern for what he calls the "sanctity of marriage" as a cynical sop to the religious right, and they may be right that marriage counseling is not a legitimate function of government. But you don't have to be right, left, Republican, Democrat, born again, agnostic or atheist to recognize that the president is right that "a strong America must also value the institution of marriage."

Homosexuals are pushing to "marry" just when marriage is having a hard time. Homosexual marriage mocks the very idea of marriage as a stabilizing force for raising families. There are many exceptions, of course, but the homosexual culture in general promotes promiscuity: 'Til Death Do Us Party. This is a difficult observation to make publicly, but it's well understood in the gay community.

Heterosexuals have their swinging parties and marriages break up over adulterous liaisons, but fidelity in marriage is honored even in its breach. When Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, Bill Clinton, the commander-in-cheat or not, eagerly signed it.

I've resisted supporting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman because recognizing and regulating marriage has always been a function of state government.

But law is ever more being made in the courts, and Congress, always eager to pass the buck, goes along to get along. Soon the states will accept same-sex marriages. A gay couple, for example, could be married legally in Massachusetts, where such unions are recognized, and then go to any of the states that have no defense of heterosexual marriage and demand recognition of their marriage. The states without laws prohibiting same-sex marriage would soon be under enormous judicial pressure to go along.

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Only an amendment to the Constitution, it seems to me, will uphold marriage as large majorities of Americans want traditional marriage upheld. Similar majorities are much more sympathetic to civil unions, allowing unmarried couples of whatever combinations to share common rights of property and health benefits.

"If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people," the president says, "the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."

Children are already vulnerable to the cultural conversation that promotes moral equivalence between same-sex marriage and heterosexual marriage. Teenage girls with raging hormones and vulnerable psyches increasingly "experiment" with bisexuality. The evidence is ambiguous as to whether male homosexuality is biologically determined or whether it can be changed, but studies of young girls in female-female sexual relationships indicate that they are affected by social fads. Over time, that can change.

"Probably we're going to find that there are multiple pathways to homosexuality and that could vary by gender, " Diane Elze, an assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis who counsels young gays and lesbians, tells The Washington Post. Culture matters.

One of the glories of our land is that we can choose how we live our lives, but we've always respected certain limits, self-imposed on a moral baseline that we impart to the generation following us. Today it's increasingly difficult to speak out against homosexual exhibitionism. It's easier to express outrage at Janet Jackson flaunting her bejeweled nipple than to criticize Madonna and Britney flaunting a passionate kiss on national television.

Ellen DeGeneres "came out" in an episode of "Ellen" in 1997. "If this program helps some child in the Midwest with their sexual identification, we've done our job," Dava Savel, the producer told TV Guide. She might have said that "if this program encourages some girl toward lesbianism, we've done our job."

Only a decade ago a New Yorker magazine cover depicted a male bridegroom in a dark suit and a male bride in a white suit, holding a bouquet of red roses over a wedding cake. We were meant to chuckle. It doesn't seem so funny now.

Poor Cupid. He's confused, just like the rest of us. Happy Valentine's Day.

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