Dear Marriage Supporter,
Gay marriage is a radical proposal because it cuts marriage off at the root, separating it from its roots in human nature.
After gay marriage, every single feature of marriage becomes questionable and therefore will be questioned anew: Why just two? Why not sisters? Why fidelity?
We've seen the polygamists and the polyamorists attempt to leap on board the gay marriage train.
Perhaps the most difficult question to answer, after gay marriage, is: Why is the government involved in marriage at all?
Why not abolish "civil marriage" altogether?
Back in the seventies, this was a radical left-wing feminist idea.
Now, under pressure from the gay marriage debate, it's being embraced by some conservative libertarians.
I went on John Stossel's show on the Fox Business network last week and we had a spirited debate:
This week John Stossel has published his own view of our debate, in a piece called "The Gay Marriage Debate."
Now don't get me wrong: I love John Stossel, and he's a voice for sanity on fiscal issues in TV Land.
But what do you say to a man who, when you point out that the reason the government is involved in marriage is that taxpayers and society have a key interest in bringing together mothers and fathers to raise their children together, responds this way:
"Again, so what? I don't care if there are three fathers and six mothers. If it's a stable relationship and the kids are connected with their parents, that's great."
That's a fantasy, not a proposal to take children's needs for their mom and dad seriously.
David Haryansi, a libertarian columnist on Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" who was on the show with me and John, has a fantasy of his own: Private contracts can replace marriage.
"Within five minutes of my idea coming to fruition, a whole industry would be formed with prefab legal documents that would just allow you to have the sort of relationship you want with the parameters you want legally," Harsanyi said.
There are a lot of practical problems with this argument. Marriage is a status, not just a private contract: The government obligates third parties to respect and recognize your marriage, it does not merely enforce your private and personal agreements.
But the problem with this view go deeper than the practical.
In Harsanyi's view, marriage can be anything any adult wants.
The one thing it cannot be, under those circumstances, is an authoritative public institution with enough power to change the way men and women behave toward each other and toward their children.
And that institution is the only thing standing between children and a whole lot of heartache.
Mark Sanford has been making the rounds on TV this month, pushing a new book, and perhaps testing the waters for the next phase of his career.
I don't want to be hard on the man: We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
But do we all have to go on TV afterwards and talk like this?
Mark Sanford says he knows and regrets that he has harmed his boys, and gestures to the breaking up of the "sacred" family unit. But in the end he says that the one lesson he has learned is not to judge?
If marriage is going to matter, society needs to acknowledge that adultery is wrong, that having children without marriage hurts them, that children long for their mom and dad in one home rather than a fragmented family, and that adults have a serious obligation to conduct their lives--including their sex lives--in such a way that their children are not deprived of this great good.
As Maggie wrote in her column this week, "The restless search for soul mates is not really compatible with making your child feel he or she is the center of your world, infinitely beloved."
Government got involved in marriage because the well-being of children is intimately connected to marriage. Our marriage culture is under profound challenge from multiple sources, and privatizing marriage is not a serious answer to this challenge. Redefining marriage so it is whatever adults want is not the answer either.
"I still don't get his argument," Stossel confesses at the end. That's okay, John, millions of Americans have shown repeatedly at the ballot box that they do!
One person who does get the argument is Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute (which is a project of NOM).
The Ruth Institute's mission is getting the word out to the next generation: Lifelong, life-giving married love is possible!
One of the latest in a series of creative projects to develop emerging marriage leaders is "I commit!"
Rep. Dale Folwell of Forsyth County, Speaker of the North Carolina House, also gets it. He writes in the Winston-Salem Journal that the people, not the politicians, should decide the future of marriage in this country:
"Elected officials have lost the public's trust. Voters are fed up with business as usual in politics. Pushing the decision and power to constitutionally define marriage out of Raleigh and into the voters' hands will help restore confidence in our political system and our society.
"The 120 members of the N.C. House of Representatives and 50 members of the N.C. Senate have two choices. They can either trust the state's 6 million voters to define marriage, or they can abdicate the decision to one activist judge. It will be a vote over who our elected officials think are more important, themselves or the voters of North Carolina."
Contrast that to Iowa's Senate majority leader, Sen. Mike Gronstal, who has just reiterated in an interview with the Associated Press that he will never ever permit the people of Iowa to decide for themselves what marriage is and should remain.
Throwing your body between voters and the ballot box is strange behavior for a politician dedicated to "civil rights."
Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the conservative group The Family Leader, responded this way:
"I think my political assessment of his decision is it will lead to his defeat in 2012," said Vander Plaats, who led the campaign to remove the three Iowa Supreme Court justices. "Obviously he'll be a top target of ours."
"Anytime you stifle the people's voice, people are going to hold you accountable," said Vander Plaats.
That's my job too here at NOM: Holding the powerful accountable to your voices and your values.
New York, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, California--and in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. Wherever the fight is, I promise you, we will be there too!
As I write, the news has just broken: CNN will televise Gov. Rick Perry's first presidential debate in South Carolina, at the APP forum which will be moderated by NOM's own founding chairman, Princeton Prof. Robbie George.
September 5 on CNN. Watch it!
Thank you for all the good work that your support, your prayers, and your sacrifices have made possible.
God bless you!
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage