In Thursday's general election and Republican primary, the Free Press endorses:
Governor: Bill Haslam
U.S. Senator: Lamar Alexander
3rd District Congress: Weston Wamp
27th District, State House: Patsy Hazlewood
County Mayor: Jim Coppinger
District 1: Randy Fairbanks
District 6: Joe Graham
District 7: Sabrena Turner
District 8: Kenny Smith
District 9: Chester Bankston
General Sessions Court, Division 1: Christie Sell
Juvenile Court: Rob Philyaw
Public Defender: Steve Smith
Criminal Court Clerk: Gwen Tidwell
Board of Education: District 3 Greg Martin
District 5: Patrick Hampton
District 6: Ballard Scearce
District 8: David Testerman
District 9: Steve Highlander
Supreme Court Judges: Retain
Domestic Partners Ordinance: Against
Of what value is marriage?
If marriage between a man and a woman is not of special importance, if it's no more valuable than a man and a woman living together or two men or two women sharing a relationship, Chattanoogans should flock to the polls on Thursday and overwhelmingly vote for the city's domestic partners ordinance.
But if marriage is really something meaningful, if it is something unique and ordained of God (or a foundation of society, depending on your belief system), if it as an institution really has special -- and legal -- benefits to society unlike any other relationship, as has been the case for thousands of years, Chattanooga voters should say so with their votes against the ordinance.
Opponents say the ordinance -- which passed with the narrowest 5-4 vote in the City Council in November -- has nothing to do with marriage, that it's a matter of fairness, a matter of treating people who live in committed relationships under the same roof the same as those in a traditional marriage.
But that takes us back to the original question: Of what value, then, is traditional marriage? And why have we given it special status in our laws and public policies?
What, for instance, do cities and corporations which have granted such benefits think of traditional marriage as an institution, or an environment in which to raise children, if it's no more valuable than two people living together?
One could argue a domestic partners ordinance is even anti-marriage. Since city employees and their partners only have to live together for a year, have their names together on several documents and offer a sworn affidavit confirming their relationship, why choose marriage if they can get the benefits?
Somehow, putting that domestic partners affidavit up against a marriage license -- which, of course, doesn't guarantee bliss -- pales in comparison.
And it should be interesting to see how the city determines whether "the city employee and the domestic partner have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring," as the ordinance reads.
Because remember how pro-abortion supporters say they don't want the government in their bedrooms? The domestic partners ordinance makes it a part of the law to know how two "share one another's lives."
Passage of the law also will increase the drain on the city's budget, but nobody can say for sure how much. One estimate was $180,000, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the budget, but officials admitted they really have no idea how much it might increase.
To be blunt, a domestic partners ordinance sanctions relationships that are clearly less beneficial than marriage.
For opposite-sex couples, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports that "cohabitating relationships are less stable than marriage and that instability is increasing."
• Children's emotional development is poorer if a parent is cohabitating than if a parent is married.
• Cohabitating women are more likely than married women to suffer physical and sexual abuse.
For same-sex couples, the Family Research Council reports that evidence suggests "committed" homosexual relationships are radically different from married couples when it comes to relationship duration, monogamy vs. promiscuity, relationship commitment, number of children being raised, health risks and the rates of intimate partner violence.
• A Census Bureau report indicates 57.7 percent of women stay married for 20 years or longer, while a Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census indicates only 5 percent of homosexuals describe their relationship lasting more than 20 years.
• A United States Department of Justice study revealed that 15.4 percent of homosexual men and 11.4 percent of homosexual women cited intimate partner violence, while only .26 percent of married women and .05 percent of married men cited such violence.
There are, of course, exceptions to each case given above, but any way you slice it, marriage comes out the winner.
We believe, further, God honors the marriage of a man and a woman and holds that relationship higher than any other. In Proverbs, for instance, we read that "righteousness makes a nation (or city or state) great, but sin diminishes any people."
Today, however, we live in a more faithless and more permissive society where almost anything goes. We believe those who live a life to less than God's highest standards and more to political correctness will ultimately experience regret.
Chattanoogans can and should vote "no" on the domestic partnerships ordinance and tell city officials God meant what he said and the state's voters meant what they said when they approved a marriage-protection amendment in 2006.