Announcing the "natural family"

After California's ruling in defense of same-sex marriage, religious conservatives launch a new line of attack in the morality wars.

By Julia Scott
Published March 17, 2005 5:14PM (EST)

On Wednesday, a coalition of conservative groups held a press conference to announce "The Natural Family Manifesto," a joint project of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society and the Sutherland Institute. Unveiled in the wake of Tuesday's court ruling in California declaring that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state's constitution, the 36-page manifesto is a radical re-envisioning of the family unit in social and economic terms, and a sweeping prescription for the pro-family movement.

"It is not enough to stop public recognition of 'gay marriage,' nor to oppose 'safe sex education' in the public schools, nor to ban partial birth abortion, nor to create optional 'covenant' marriages," it reads. "Victory for the natural family will come only as we change the terms of debate."

The authors envision a state designed to protect the "integrity" of the home -- autonomous family units composed exclusively of one woman, one man, and as many children as possible. As incentive for the mother to stay home and fulfill her "aptness for motherhood," fathers would be paid a "family wage." "Home economies" would replace the "control of big government and vast corporations," whose demands have eroded the sovereignty of marriage-based families. The tax code would be amended to favor large families and small businesses.

It goes without saying that same-sex marriage does not exist in this prescribed world. In the utopia of "family homes, lawns, and gardens... ringing with the laughter of many children," gay marriage would not only be illegal -- children would be instructed with positive images of chastity, marriage, "husbandry," and "housewifery."

If it all sounds a bit over the top, consider that the manifesto has the backing of representatives from a dozen powerful conservative groups and leaders, from the Heritage Foundation to Jerry Falwell. Apparently religious conservatives are frustrated with the Bush administration's inertia on the marriage amendment and other pet issues, and the manifesto is only one part of their next line of attack.

Julia Scott

San Francisco-based freelance journalist Julia Scott writes about water and energy issues for various publications. She also covers the environment for Bay Area News Group, a chain of newspapers in Northern California.

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