By JEREMIAH G. DYS

CHARLESTON -- The Charleston Gazette's characterization of the democratic process in action as, "a clever ploy: using prejudice against gays to reap ... votes" (Gazette, "Storm" 6/13/08) insults democracy.

Efforts in the United States to defend marriage against those who would seek its redefinition is democracy in action, as opposed to the contempt therefore we have witnessed in California-style judicial activism.

There, not only has the court ignored the will of the people, and imposed a redefinition of marriage on Californians, it has inflicted years of legal chaos quite possibly on the entire country.

What is more, those who seek to circumvent their own state's laws on marriage, are manipulating the democratic process and partnering with the most egregious example of judicial activism in modern history.

But there is a deeper prejudice entirely ignored by the Gazette: the battle to redefine marriage is essentially one that has as its ultimate outcome the belittling of gender.

In other words, in California, the Supreme Court has effectively said that at least one of the genders does not matter in a marriage. The question that must then be asked of the opponents of marriage must be, "Which one?"

Which gender is not important? Is the female gender in a marriage more important than the male? In matters of public accommodation, is the male gender to be given more privacy and protection over the female? To the children that will be affected by the decisions of judges and governors, will the opponents of marriage kindly identify whether a mother or father is more important?

Ultimately, the redefinition of marriage strikes at every single person, if for no other reason than they must answer that simple question, "Does gender matter?" Those who support marriage do so because they answer that question with a resounding, "YES!"

Men have something to contribute that, biologically and otherwise, women do not. Women are blessed with that certain something that cannot be described that men are not given. Those gender differences are vital in the development of our marriages, our children, families, and societies - and have been throughout time.

Government should not impose policies that knowingly deprive children of a Mom or Dad. When kids grow up in homes without their married mom and dad, they are more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol, do drugs, and lead lives of increased crime. Mom and Dad matter.

The next time someone tries to convince you that marriage should be redefined in the name of "tolerance," with love and grace, ask them, "Which gender does not matter?"

That, of course, is a question best left to be answered by those who consent to be governed.

Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq., is the president and general counsel of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, a servant organization advocating for policies that embrace the sanctity of human life, enrich marriage, and safeguard religious freedom, www.familypolicywv.com.

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