By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Conservative Christian groups criticizing the president's memorandum extending certain benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees are alleging that the president is approximating the benefits of marriage—that he's basically creating "marriage light." It's an interesting line of argument because polls show that most Americans support benefits for gay partners but oppose gay marriage.
I'm not saying religious conservatives are acting purely politically—many do believe that providing benefits to gay couples is a sneaky way of legalizing gay unions. But given those poll numbers, it also makes political sense for religious conservatives to try to reframe the benefits issue as a gay marriage issue.
Gay rights advocates, meanwhile, see benefits and gay marriage as much different issues, since extending some benefits to gay partners still excludes key benefits of marriage.
Here's a statement today from Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright:
"Barack Obama's order...attempts to elevate relationships outside of marriage as if they are the same as marriage. Marriage provides unique benefits to individuals, families, and society that cannot be replicated by any other living arrangements. Marriage helps nurture children and reduces social and financial costs to society by promoting healthy behavior. Federal funds should not be a political tool to elevate partner arrangements to be treated similar to marriage."
And here's a statement from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins making a similar marriage-based argument against Obama's executive memorandum:
President Obama's expected Executive Order extending benefits to homosexual partners appears to be a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and clearly violates the spirit of the federal law which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. In 1996, DOMA passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate and was then signed by President Clinton.