2-28 JM Column

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2004

Our grandchildren’s history books won’t devote a chapter to the last month of February 2004. And that’s too bad.

Across the United States, contrasting social views have met somewhere along the Mississippi River and collided with a force more deafening than any man-made explosive.

On one side, gays and lesbians have found the citadel of lawless fashion in a San Francisco mayor’s office.

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On the other side, Christian citizens — in a frenzy modernly matched only to Elvis or the Beatles — have flocked to movie theaters in both wonderment and support of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ.”

Is it appropriate to call this the fight of Good vs. Evil? Do not judge, lest you be judged yourself.

Without judgment, though, defining the background to this week’s events may provide us an accurate depiction of just what has caused this social collision and which side has skimped the truth.

On March 7, 2000, California voters were asked to define marriage in a statewide election. On the ballot that day was Proposition 22, which declared “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

Californians, admittedly, shocked us all when 61 percent of all voters endorsed Proposition 22. Immediately, state law defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Take a trip 3,000 miles east to the Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., where Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore placed a monument etched with historical documents — including the Ten Commandments. To some, Moore’s decision to place the monument in a state building blurred the ever jagged line dividing church and state.

The reaction to the California and Alabama events defines the utter confusion of a nation. On the West Coast, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has out-and-out broken the law. Less than four years ago, 61 percent of California citizens said marriage is defined by the union of man and woman. However, few — including Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — have taken a public stand against the illegal marriages.

Back here in Alabama, Moore couldn’t take a step without a member of the ACLU crawling on the floor in front of him. Moore, they said, had broken the law by placing a “religious” document in a government building. Judge Myron Thompson agreed with the ACLU, ordered the monument boarded and removed, and took the gavel from Moore’s hand.

So where’s the ACLU in the California gay marriage debate? They’re holding cameras and bouquets on the steps of San Francisco City Hall while Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter are inspired to marry “after the sitting president made the vile and hateful comments he made,” O’Donnell said.

Those comments? Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union between a man and woman. The same thing California residents endorsed. The same thing 60 percent of all Americans endorse, according to a poll conducted by the National Annenberg Election Survey.

The cases of Moore and California mirror each other up to a point. The mirror shatters when national media members and so-called “civil liberty” groups react.

Consider this: About 3,000 couples have illegally wed in San Francisco. However, the national media has preyed on the story like it’s a presidential election.

Now turn to Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of Christ,” where millions viewed the motion picture on its first night.

Through this movie, which details the final 12 hours of Christ’s life, our society has boisterously declared a degree of moral foundation. Sure, the controversy surrounding the movie has pulled some to theaters. However, citizens in this country care about the principles of Christianity. They care about the truth.

Why has this been such an historical week in American society? We have learned, in a matter of days, that the will of the people in our democracy isn’t necessarily the will of the people who desire to control our society.

When 3,000 people break a law that seems too “fundamental,” those with power — especially those in the media — seek to discredit the law, not the people. But when a judge, virtually under the same circumstances, stands up for what he believes is a fundamental rule of law, he’s carted from office — by his peers, no less — and cast aside as a fruitcake with a vendetta against “the system.”

And while the public debate rages over a small village of homosexuals and their marital rights, the rest of this country is suffocated with intrigue over Christ.

In the mind of the public, is there any comparison between gay marriages and Christ? Absolutely not. But in the minds — and cameras and pens — of those who wish to control our social view, gay marriage is of equal import as the moral foundation of our country.

What a telling week in the history of a nation. Put that in a history book.