Last Wednesday, in a 4-3 decision, four judges in New Jersey defied hundreds of years of tradition and the will of New Jersey's residents and ordered that the state of New Jersey recognize same-sex unions. These four activist judges imposed their opinion on thousands of state residents, forcing them to accept something they did not vote for nor ask for.

New Jersey had laws banning gay marriage, but no such language was enumerated in its Constitution. Since New Jersey had nothing in its Constitution explicitly prohibiting gay marriage, it was very simple for the New Jersey Supreme Court to rule that the laws supporting traditional marriage were unconstitutional.

This is why Wisconsin must vote "Yes" for the Marriage Protection Amendment Nov. 7.

Without a constitutional amendment, any judge in Wisconsin can invalidate the state law already in place banning gay marriage. All it takes is one lawsuit and one activist judge to open the door to gay marriage in Wisconsin. Rest assured, this lawsuit will be brought to court somewhere near or within Madison; where gay marriage supporters can be confident that an activist judge rooting for their cause will be assigned the case.

The sole responsibility of judges is to interpret the Constitution and rule on the constitutionality of laws enacted by the Legislature, not promote their own agenda through their rulings. Those who truly believe in representative democracy can all agree that this issue should be decided through the Legislature and the ballot box, not the judiciary.

The marriage amendment will likely pass in Wisconsin. In all 20 states where this amendment has appeared on the ballot, it has passed, with an average of 71 percent voting in favor of the amendment. Also, in a recent survey taken by St. Norbert College, Wisconsinites resoundingly approved the amendment, with 60 percent in support.

Gay marriage advocates are targeting Wisconsin, hoping to gain a landmark victory (their first) by defeating the amendment. In the recent weeks, the pro-gay-marriage group, Fair Wisconsin, has resorted to dishonest tactics. They are airing misleading television ads, hoping to trick amendment supporters into voting "No." In these ads, they claim that voting "no" means "no same-sex marriage" and "no change."

Amendment opponents also insist on protecting the rights of homosexuals, claiming this amendment will deny them their basic human rights. However, the right for homosexuals to marry is not listed or even implied anywhere in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.

The fact is, homosexuals in Wisconsin enjoy every right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, the same as heterosexuals. The U.S. Constitution is silent on marriage, and therefore, states have a right to define it themselves.

After four judicial activists on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court re-defined marriage in 2003, there were 7,341 same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses between May 2004 and December 2005. The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy notes that, estimating a 5 percent homosexual population in Massachusetts, this indicates that merely 5.9 percent of gays and lesbians chose to marry. If gay and lesbian couples truly felt persecuted and denied basic human rights for generations, one would expect more than this tiny minority of their population to obtain marriage licenses.

So why do advocates of same-sex marriage remain persistent despite such little demand? Perhaps they have a larger agenda.

In December 1984, an article titled "Waging Peace: A Gay Battle Plan to Persuade Straight America" appeared in Christopher Street, a gay publication. The authors wrote, "Against the mighty pull of institutional religion one must set the mightier draw of science and public opinion. Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and the acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can again work here."

It's true: A religious component exists in the marriage debate, but not in the way traditional marriage opponents suggest. The left is seeking to drive radical secularism throughout America, and homosexual marriage is their current vehicle.

Homosexual activists play the bigot card to discredit opponents and use hate-crime legislation to silence them. Activists realize they have much greater leverage in the argument when churches find themselves opposing constitutional rights. If fully implemented, the secular left's agenda will ultimately leave little room for free exercise of faith or speech.

Amendment supporters have legitimately utilized the political process to protect traditional marriage, while opponents use deception, smear tactics and back-door judicial activism. A "Yes" vote sends a strong message of resistance to the radical secularists, whose agenda and tactics should concern any student of even minimal belief in traditional values. More importantly, it affirms the good that traditional marriage has brought to our families in Wisconsin for many years.

Please vote "Yes" to protect traditional marriage on Nov. 7.

LaVonne Derksen ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in accounting and finance.