The unanimous passage of a proclamation drafted by a a group advocating conservative social values -- including a narrow definition of marriage -- has put the town council of Kanab, Utah at the center of a fight over separation of church and state.
Local lawmakers adopted the resolution, The Natural Family: A Vision for the City of Kanab, at their last council meeting in January.
The resolution is derived from a document called The Natural Family: A Manifesto by Allan C. Carlson, president of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society and Paul T. Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative issues group with close ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Sutherland Institute describes itself as "an independent, non-profit, public policy group that seeks lasting solutions to community problems by transcending politics as usual. With a primary focus on education, poverty, and family, our work is grounded in the principles of self-reliance, private initiative, and recognition of family as the fundamental unit of society."
The proclamation labels marriage between a man and a woman as "ordained by God," and envisions a society wherein young women grow into "wives, homemakers and mothers and young men become husbands and fathers building homes open to a full quiver of children."
Mero has shopped the proclamation around to every local government in the state, but Kanab is the only town to have adopted it, claim critics, who add that "Kanab residents, civil rights activists, and women's groups plan to descend on the tiny town hall at the next council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, to demand that the resolution be repealed."
According to a Feb. 7 article in the Salt Lake Tribune, "Kanab is believed to be the only Utah city to approve the natural-family resolution. Others, including North Salt Lake and Mapletown, considered it and rejected it."
That same article notes that Gay Rights advocates, such as "Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Utah in Salt Lake City, finds such language archaic and offensive."
But Mero has said that as the Kanab resolution recognizes and promotes the natural family as the fundamental unit of society, "they are doing so within a context of public policy, not private lives."
In a Lone Peak Press Feb. 12 editorial Mero said, "We care that a man and a woman marry and have children, not because of personal opinion but because of reasons related to sound public policy. We are not telling people how to live; we are encouraging an expectation of life to progress society peaceably and prosperously. We are not imposing our preferences on others; we are proposing a set of normative values and principles upon which to build a lasting society. This is why marriage policy, and everything else related to the natural family, matters at all."