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Alliance for Marriage employs divisive rhetoric in campaign to change U.S. constitution.

The leading force behind the drive for a Federal Marriage Amendment is a relatively new organization based in Alexandria, Va., which likes to boast that it represents "millions of Americans, of every color and creed, who share a commitment to reducing fatherlessness and rebuilding a marriage-based culture in the United States."

Founded in 1999 by attorney Matt Daniels, the Alliance for Marriage (AFM) also proclaims on its website that it represents "millions of Latinos and Asian Americans," as well as "Jews, Christians and Muslims from every ethnic background."

According to the group's mission statement, it is a tax-exempt organization that is "dedicated to promoting marriage and addressing the epidemic of fatherless families in the United States." The AFM lists a host of "reforms" that are needed in American society, including tax cuts for "married families with children," mandatory "counseling directed at marital reconciliation for wives and husbands considering divorce" and the elimination of "all federal and state welfare policies which penalize welfare recipients who are married."

The most recent IRS filing (Form 990) available for the Alliance shows a budget of only $380,153 for fiscal year 2001. But the figure belies the group's influence and reach. Indeed, the group has drawn national attention for its work and garnered support from the nation's leading Religious Right outfits.

AFM's advisory board is primarily composed of social conservatives, evangelical activists and traditionalist Catholics. Also among the group's official advisers is David Caprara, an operative of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon whose unorthodox theology and mass weddings have provoked controversy.

Another board member is the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a former non-voting delegate to Congress who often works with Moon. In summer 2001, Fauntroy trumpeted his involvement with the Alliance, telling Agape Press, "As a Christian, I do not endorse or condone homosexual activity and I've indicated that it is the essence of sin."

Moreover, among the group's promoters and financial backers are the leading voices of the Religious Right and a couple of members of Congress who have offered up some of the most outlandish anti-gay rhetoric to date.

In a 2002 fundraising letter, Daniels brags that "AFM has the support of virtually every pro-life, pro-family leader in America--including Henry Hyde. Dr. Jim Dobson is on board as is my friend Chuck Colson. So are Senator Rick Santorum, Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua and many other leaders including Judge Robert Bork."

The fundraising letter asks for contributions of $450, $225, $90 or $45 to help AFM lobby for passage of its marriage amendment.

"If we don't pass a Constitutional Amendment to protect marriage, the Supreme Court could decide to abandon marriage just as they abandoned the Right to Life of our unborn children with the horrendous Roe v. Wade decision," warns Daniels.

Those fundraising letters were also accompanied with pleas from U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to contribute to AFM's lobbying efforts on behalf of the marriage amendment.

"I lent my endorsement to AFM for the wonderful work they are doing, and I encourage you to support them in any way you are able," Hyde's letter reads. (Ironically, Hyde's record includes a much-publicized extramarital affair that came to light during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.)

Santorum's letter, which was mailed not long after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, declares that "this may truly be the most important letter I ever write you." Santorum drew national attention earlier this year when he equated homosexuality to incest, polygamy, adultery and "man on dog" sex.

The Santorum pitch urged recipients to bombard Congress with petitions to "protect marriage between a man and a woman against attacks of the homosexual activists" and implored them to donate money to AFM.

"If you can only make one contribution to a political organization this year, make your gift to Alliance for Marriage today," Santorum wrote.

Though the AFM declares itself a nonpartisan organization, the vast majority of its supporters are anything but. And Daniels, the group's president, apparently sees and appreciates the issue as a partisan one as well, telling The National Journal, in a recent interview that the debate over marriage "will play out in the 2004 elections, and we think that's good."--JL
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Title Annotation:Uncivil Union
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Previous Article:Marriage proposal: religious right, political allies launch crusade to alter constitution.
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