Early Debate (1994) on “Domestic Partnership” on Nantucket Island

John C. Rankin

[excerpted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

The pansexual jihad seeks to equate homosexual relationships with heterosexual marriage, aka “same-sex marriage.” My earliest encounter with the issue was with the debate over “domestic partnership.”

The goal of “domestic partnership” legislation in various cities, and in states like Hawaii (where rebuffed at the polls) and Vermont (where “civil union” legislation had been passed due to the fiat of the state’s Supreme Court, such which seeks to approximate marriage closely), the push followed for same-sex marriage. But it was not aimed at a “broadening of a definition of marriage” per se, but a broadening of it so as to make it meaningless and therefore to accomplish its final destruction. It aimed not for marriage as mutual fidelity, but for an “open marriage” where mutual fidelity is not a part. This is classic dualism and syncretism, for which Israel and Judah both merited exile, respectively in 721 and 586 B.C. Also, its goal was to have the local, state and federal government underwrite a sodomized culture.

In 1994, the island town of Nantucket, Massachusetts had placed before its town meeting a referendum to allow “domestic partnership,” which would formally sanction relationships outside of marriage, as a camel’s nose in the tent for an eventual homosexual “marriage.” It was spearheaded by the local chapter of NOW, and its head, attorney Sara Alger. A Nantucket property owner asked me for help in defeating it, and I worked with a core of about twenty Christians to do so. I taught a seminar, where we looked at homosexuality and related issues, but the overwhelming emphasis was on the ethics of our public conduct rooted in only Genesis, and how to make a positive case as to why the proposed article was not good law.

After the seminar, we invited Ms. Alger, or any representative of her choice, to address a Mars Hill Forum with me – to pose the three hardest questions we evangelical Christians need to be accountable to in our public policy position on this subject. But she was scheduled to be out of town at the proposed time, and did not supply anyone in her stead. She had already conducted a public forum on the subject, but did not invite anyone holding a different view to share the podium. So we held a forum without any representative from her side of the question as we had desired, invited the public to attend, and some good public conversation resulted.

In advertising the forum, the core of Christians passed out flyers island-wide, and this is how it read:

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Vote No on Article 50:

Domestic Partnership

 Attend a Public Forum on Wednesday, April 28th, sponsored by

The Committee for Nantucket’s Family Heritage

Attend the Town Meeting, commencing May 4th, and join us

in defeating an article that is bad for Nantucket

The stated purpose for the Domestic Partnership proposal is to give legal recognition for relationships outside marriage, namely for lesbian partners and homosexual partners, as well as for unmarried heterosexual couples.

The question is this: How does the legal sanction of these relationships promote the welfare of Nantucket – how does it promote the welfare of the historic nature of marriage and family as the basis for a healthy and prosperous society?

The Committee for Nantucket’s Family Heritage is a grass roots organization formed on the island in response to the Article 50 proposal. We are sponsoring a public forum on Wednesday, April 28th, at 7:00 p.m. at the high school, so that those who support, or are uncertain about Article 50, can pose their toughest questions to a spokesperson we have chosen to represent our concerns.

The sponsors of Article 50 have been invited to attend the forum and provide a spokesperson with equal time to pose their questions, but they declined. Nonetheless, we are eager for vibrant dialogue and communication, so we hope that the proponents of Article 50 will attend the forum. If the sponsors of Article 50 are unwilling to defend it in such a gracious forum, why should Nantucket residents vote for it?

In particular, there are five issues we think should be addressed:

  1. Those sponsoring Article 50 are on record, and we agree, as opposing domestic violence. A 1991 study by the U.S. Department of Justice compiles data which reveal that a woman living with a man outside of marriage is 62 times more likely to suffer violence, than a woman living with her husband. The question is this: Why support an Article that gives legal sanction to the very context in which women suffer the most violence and abuse?
  2. Despite the argument that this Article will “only cost” Nantucket taxpayers a maximum additional $37,500.00 in health insurance premiums, there are many considerations that could put the town at liability for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, the Finance Committee has voted against Article 50 because of this. What does the Domestic Partnership Article add to Nantucket that is worth such a dangerous financial exposure, or for that matter, even a so-called modest $37,500.00 of our tax dollars?
  3. Article 50 seeks in essence to redefine the family, moving it away from its historic definition as rooted in a faithful marriage between a  man and a woman, into which children are brought, loved, and nurtured to mature and responsible citizenship. How does Article 50 do anything but speed the further decay of the family in America?
  4. The sponsors of Article 50, in their public forum March 24th, stated that their initiative is essentially local, and was inspired by a newspaper article describing a similar initiative in Cambridge. However, their entire presentation, including exact quotes not revealed as such, was a mimic of a report entitled: Domestic Partnership: Issues and Legislation. This report was published in May, 1992 by the LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND, INC. (of New York City), which is devoted to “the recognition of lesbian and gay relationships.” We have no objection to the right of “lesbians and gays” to propose such an initiative or to lobby for their desired goals in a democratic and pluralistic society. Our question is this: Why did the sponsors of Article 50 deny any knowledge of this report and its national agenda when specifically asked at their March 24th meeting? At our April 28th forum, we will carefully itemize their use of the LAMBDA report. We believe that an agenda which is commendable to Nantucket voters should be openly identified.
  5. The Levi-Strauss Company (being the world’s largest clothier) is an example of one corporation that has implemented a DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP policy for its employees. Levi-Strauss has also initiated extraordinary pressure and financial coercion against the Boy Scouts in the San Francisco area, demanding that the Boy Scouts accept homosexual scoutmasters. Now the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, with its own moral and religious standards. The question is this: Will the sponsors of Article 50 publicly disavow Levi-Strauss for this persecution of the Boy Scouts? How does such a DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP initiative not lead to a broader agenda, of using the law to mandate approval of the homosexual lifestyle upon private and religious organizations?

We believe these questions are of crucial concern to the welfare of Nantucket, and we believe they are graciously and intelligently posed. We invite you to attend our forum on April 28th, 7:00 p.m. at the high school, and to attend the Town Meeting, commencing May 4th, and Vote NO on Article 50.

Thank you.

The Committee for Nantucket’s Family Heritage

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Being asked, as an outsider, to consult for this campaign, my primary goal was to equip local Christians to own an honest argument, and to present it graciously and intelligently at the Town Meeting. In the March 24th forum presented by the sponsors of Article 50, there was a carefully nuanced bigotry against Christianity. Sara Alger was the lead spokesperson. The nuance was that if any people oppose the Article on religious grounds, they were “religious bigots” and guilty of being “homophobic.” Any biblical concern brought into the public domain was deemed as religiously “impositional” But if a clergy person were to support domestic partnership, then it was okay. This was a reversal motif up front – accuse Christians of being the bigots so as to negate their freedom to argue and vote against the Article. The majority of residents on Nantucket are theologically and politically “liberal,” so this was a concerted strategy to isolate and caricaturize any opponents to domestic partnership. The need therefore was to reverse the reversal, and this means to give when taken from, bless when cursed, and show love when hated. Thus our strategy was understated information – no circus or hyperbole.

The driving motivation for domestic partnership legislation is to legitimize homosexual liaisons, and to gain the government “benefits” that come along with marriage. The sponsors of Article 50 chose, however, to play down the homosexual aspect, by extending their Article to include unmarried heterosexuals. At the same time, they played up the homosexual aspect by charging, ahead of time, that any opposition would be rooted in the “homophobia” of “religious extremists.” They played both angles, and the Christians on the island needed a wise response.

With Sara Alger’s refusal to represent her position in our forum, it was tempting to highlight this point. But I thought more circumspectly and muted it considerably. But here she was, leading the initiative for the domestic partnership Article, but she would not embrace a genuine public dialogue. She said she had to be out of town on the weekend we proposed, and I have no reason to doubt that. But if she wanted true dialogue, she could have provided a spokesperson (and she had a competent one who spoke at her initial forum), or would have found another time to do it – she would have offered a counter-proposal. And she would have responded to our specific invitation through private channels to give evidence concerning domestic violence against women, if our first concern about it was at all in error.

Our concerns had nothing to do with any alleged “homophobia.” [As mentioned earlier with regard to the forum at Wesleyan University, there are no such strains in me, and as I will again address vis-a-vis a forum at Yale Divinity School.] “Homophobia” is a word coined by the homosexual-rights movement to define people who fear homosexuality or homosexuals, or who even fear its possibility within themselves. “Homophobes” thus eschew any contact with homosexuals, hate them and supposedly desire them to be denied civil rights. Since the sponsors of Article 50 needed us to be “homophobic,” we were clear not to even allow the metaethics of our language to appear thus. In our straightforward motivation, we believed domestic partnership to be bad law for Nantucket, and we set forth five reasons why this was the case.

Our first reason had to do with domestic violence against women, and our belief that a domestic partnership law would only exacerbate it. Since Sara Alger and NOW were on record as being opposed to domestic abuse, they should have regarded this as a valid issue. We sent them the study we cited, asking them to show us if our concern was on target or not. They never responded.

In January, 1991, an article entitled “Female Victims of Violent Crime” was published by Caroline Wolf Harlow, Ph.D., Statistician for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (NCJ-126826). It was commissioned in 1978. The 62-1 ratio of violence against women outside of a married relationship, is deduced by Dr. Harlow’s statistics, and not by any conclusion she herself explicitly noted from her study. But this figure is justified as an honest reading of her figures.

First, a look at those statistics as she presented them:

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Table 2. Violence sustained by female victims, by victim-offender relationship, 1979-1987. Estimated number of violent victimizations that female victims sustained (out of a total 5,632,400):

Victim-offender relationship

Intimate: 5,632,400.

Spouse: 512,000.

Ex-Spouse*: 1,945.000.

Parent: 187,700.

Child: 149,900.

Sibling: 307,500.

Other relative: 539,000.

Boyfriend: 1,789,000.

Unspecified: 210.200.

* Includes separated or divorced couples

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The 62:1 ratio is determined accordingly:

The Census Bureau reported, at the time, 3 million cohabitating women, and 53 million married women in the United States. The 3 million cohabitating women reported 198,800 assaults a year, which means 1 out of 15 cohabitating women were assaulted. The 53 million married women reported 56,900 assaults, which means 1 out of 931 married women were assaulted. The ratio of 15 to 931 equals 1 to 62, in a direct comparison between “spouses” and “boyfriends” as listed above.

This is a simple summary, but there are many variables that can come into play, and cause us to question the accuracy of the 62:1 ratio.

First is the matter of the ex-spouses. By not including them in the ratio, is reality skewered? I do not believe so. It profiles the failure rate of marriages. The institution of marriage itself cannot be made into a panacea. The only biblically consistent marriage is one which is based on the power to give as originated in the Lord. Ex-spouses, specially among men, are those who by definition have reneged on marriage, trust and the power to give. Boyfriends are those who never entered into a vow of covenantal fidelity. In many ways, the “ex-spouse” category more naturally fits in with the “boyfriend” category, and such an inclusion would make the ratio far more severe.

Second, the ex-spouses in many cases become the live-in boyfriends of other women (not to mention adulterous liaisons). Thus, since this data is unmeasured, and it interfaces two categories, it cannot be figured into the 62-1 ratio. Nor would it ameliorate the ratio at all.

Third, many suggest the possibility that married women would be less inclined to report domestic violence because of the more permanent nature of the relationship, and their fear of its dissolution. This would alter the data and make the ratio less severe. On the other hand, I would suggest that there is the equal if not greater possibility that cohabitating women would be less likely to report domestic violence because of the more tenuous nature of the relationship, and their fear of its dissolution due to the ease by which the man can just leave. This would alter the data and make the ratio more severe. In both cases, it is male chauvinism which is the factor, and since it cuts in both directions, it is statistically unlikely to affect the ratio.

Fourth, the study uses “estimated” numbers. Since the compilation of such numbers requires sufficient samples to project nationwide figures, we know that the methodology is consistent for all numbers in the table. Thus, the ratio remains consistent regardless of the actual numbers being lower or higher.

And fifth, abuse within marriage is the largest contributor to separation and divorce. This would figure into the large proportion of abuse to women who are separated. But as well, the large proportion of abuse by boyfriends reflects men who are chauvinistic to begin with, and many of whom later marry the girlfriends they slept with and also abused. Abuse can originate in any capacity, and thus it is statistically neutral in terms of how it might affect the figures listed above. By definition, a biblically faithful marriage based on the power to give has a far lower possibility of abuse, especially in contrast with sex outside of marriage. Marriage as a static institution is not the goal, but rather a living covenantal marriage rooted in the ethics of only Genesis.

People can lie with statistics, and it happens often in politics – selective use of numbers for predetermined and biased purposes. I have used these numbers as honestly as I know, and as based on a huge well-controlled long-term study. A 62:1 ratio is astounding, if indeed this is close to reality. But if the true ratio were far less, 32:1 or 16:1 or 4:1, should it impact us any less? Where there is no trust and commitment based on the power to give, as defined by biblical marriage, then brokenness will multiply.

Thus, our first question in the Nantucket campaign was one that the NOW feminists, if intellectually and morally consistent, should have embraced. They did not, in my estimation, for as much as they oppose domestic violence, they are more cemented into an idolatry of sex outside marriage, a reversal of the God, life, choice, sex paradigm. Thus, in the honest metaethics of our language, we demonstrated a superior concern for the well-being of women as image-bearers of God.

In the second question, we raised honest financial concerns, and in the third question, we hit a core issue, asking if Article 50 was in reality seeking to redefine the family. In the fourth question, we addressed the reality that the domestic partnership initiative was not a happenstance of some islander having read about it in the newspaper. At our public forum, we itemized its dependency on the Lambda material and its explicit agenda.

With this concern, we had understated opportunity to profile our power to live in the light versus their hiddenness, but as gently as possible. We celebrated their freedom to lobby for their concerns, but only asked why they denied knowledge of Lambda, why they were not open in their agenda. By ourselves having an open agenda, and by commending them to do likewise, we held the ethical high ground at every level.

In the final question, we demonstrated an outworking of a domestic partnership policy, one which leads to religious bigotry against those who do not accept homosexuality. And as with the other questions, the sponsors of Article 50 did not respond. Thus, they silenced themselves as did Jesus’s enemies in the Court of the Gentiles. The question concerning the Boy Scouts has been magnified in the meantime. In a New Jersey Case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Boy Scouts were vindicated in their freedom as a private organization not to be forced to accept homosexual scoutmasters. I will touch on this again later.

In the whole process there was no “homophobia.” We regarded homosexuals as people made originally in God’s image, and treated them that way – not as homosexuals to be dehumanized, but as people to be respected as people. And from there we argued that domestic partnership was bad law. Thus, their strategy was reversed, and at the Town Meeting, they were flustered and it was evident to those attending that their position was the one of intolerance, not ours. After public discussion, the domestic partnership article was defeated overwhelmingly, by a vote of 455-186. In other words, the Christians in their presentation won the majority of townspeople from all walks of life. This I believe should always be our ability, if rooted in the power of only Genesis.

However, a postscript note on tenacity. Sara Alger and those with her reintroduced (and slightly modified) a domestic partnership bill in each of the subsequent two years, and it was again defeated, but by narrower margins. Then she announced she was done with the attempt. But at the last moment in 1997, she brought the issue again to town meeting, being sure that there was little opportunity for any opposition to mobilize. And with a much smaller number of residents in attendance, and with all her allies she could muster, she got the article passed.

I was only involved in the initial campaign in 1994, and only as a consultant to the small group of Christians on the island. Sara Alger and those with her were tenacious, and took opportunity when the guard was let down. Vigilance is always the cost for freedom and justice. It is indeed sad when a narrow group of elitists can manipulate democratic process to impose a minority view on everyone else, especially when they all the while refuse to engage in honest public debate. But that is the nature of the ancient serpent, and if a voting public is apathetic enough, such a usurpation of power will continue unabated until we lose all our constitutional freedoms. Unless the church is revived and makes it first the Gospel, then politics…

“Domestic partnership” was the camel’s nose in the tent for the broader agenda to legitimize homosexual “marriage.” As this now as this succeeds, the advance of lawlessness at every level – the eventual sodomization of American culture – will be the result. Activist homosexuality is sexual anarchy, and if ratified by law, it becomes the seed for wholesale cultural anarchy, and therefore the invitation for a totalitarian ruler – an antichrist figure.

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