John Stossel's Marriage Debate – NOM Marriage News, September 1, 2011


NOM National Newsletter

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:

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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?

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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!"

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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 Brown

Brian S Brown

Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage

P.S. With your help, we can fight for marriage and we can win! Please consider what you can give, today, to defend marriage for this generation and the generations to come.


  1. Posted September 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Atheism is a religion ~ a godless religion or can be called as an anti God or gods religion. It worships the self, Me! I am my lord and my own god or gods, there shall be no god, or gods before me. My pride, my ego, my sexual desire and my immediate satisfaction for all of my senses are my gods. The separation of church and state is only the means to their end. To prove that it is the core of our modern day problems will solve many of the problems. Atheism is a religion is the truth! we must press it onward and let everyone who has a head to think about it! Theism and atheism are the two religious bases. Theism divided into polytheism and monotheism, from there they dived into all other religions. Atheism worships the self. Thus, there shall be no other God or gods before me. The result of the away goes the Ten Commandments and One Nation Under God.

  2. Valerie
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Just like to point out, Claire, that I'm a practising Catholic who supports the separation of church and state, and same-sex marriage.

  3. Louis E.
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I'm non-religious though not atheist myself,and consider only the secular imperatives for guaranteeing preferential treatment to opposite-sex relationships...but Valerie,to the extent that you support same-sex "marriage" your practice of Catholicism is hypocritical.

  4. Barb
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    There is no separation of church and state. That's a fabricated concept. The founders didn't envision it. That's why it's nowhere in the constitution.

  5. Roberto
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Barb, read the US Constitution's First Amendment, as well as as 200 years of case law.

  6. Barb
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Here's the original amendment, Roberto. I'm not sure which version you're reading. Nothing about separation of church and state, only that there's no official government-sanctioned religion and that folks can worship however they want:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

  7. Valerie
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Exactly Barb, it's trying to keep church and state separate. The actual quote isn't in the constitution, but the idea is.

  8. Badger
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Barb: The phrase "the separation of church and state" is a metaphor.i.e. a shorthand interpretation of the constitutional text. Whether it appears literally in the words of the Constitution's text is not very important. What matters is whether this metaphor accurately captures the meaning of the constitutional guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". And it does, just like other metaphors that are used to describe the constitution. For example the word "federalism" does not appear anywhere in the constitution. Neither do the phrases "the separation of powers" aor the system of "checks and balances" that control the operation of the three branches of government appear anywhere in the Constitution even though every schoolchild is taught these metaphors.

  9. mike
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

    Bagder-I think, you should be honest with yourself-it depends on whos interpreting the Constitution, right? I thank we are fully aware where you stand on SSM, and religion.

  10. Barb
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    People bandy about this nonexistent phrase as an erroneous argument that our government should exist without God. Most of our founders were people of faith, and their faith played a significant role in the creation of our country. God is the foundation of our laws and morals.

    I'm guessing that the same folks who believe in the "separation of church and state" fallacy also disagree with the Heller and McDonald decisions regarding the 2nd Amendment and an individual's right to self defense.

    You can read the Bill of Rights however you choose, but if you look at what our founders were facing with the tyranny of the British government it becomes very clear what their intent was.

  11. Little man
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    How can a Libertarian say government should get out of the marriage business, and then propose that the government still support and regulate and manage all sorts of types of partnerships? Sure. we would like the government to support our exotic partnership types, but.. would the government do it? The only reason the government has special support for the institution of marriage taken as a whole is that, to not do so, would cost the government a whole lot more. People keep thinking that the government should recognize and provide tax deductions, and other benefits for their own type of partnership, perhaps with more than a man/woman pair. They don't learn from history that such partnerships have already been tried, and found to lead to emotional chaos, or economic disadvantage for children. How hard is it to divorce 3 times and remarry? If natural marriage and its positive consequences are not respected, it is not because other partnerships are "wrong". Wrong is wrong because history has shown there are consequences of "wrong". We cannot make God squirm by doing wrong. We do it to ourselves, and that is why both physics and nature and religion tells us consistently what works and what does not, for the government to be regulating it.

  12. Little man
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    The US Constitution does not include the word "church" because what the newly independent leaders were trying to make sure is the new government would not side with the Anglican Church, and wanted freedom to exercise their religion. In wording the Constitution as is, they created a form of government which would not dictate philosophy, because a certain, very open, philosophy was already the basis for instituting the government itself. Now, people want the government to go back and preach a particular religion or philosophy, which is perhaps well intended, but goes against the very intent of the authors of the Constitution. No matter what, the "intent" of the US Constitution is left to the US Supreme Court, not just anyone. All of us remaining must adhere to the "letter of the law." Any Constitution will be inconvenient to some, but without our US Constitution, we go back to the ways of the Roman Empire.

  13. Ranger G
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The irony I see is that Stossel proclaims himself a small government libertarian while buying off on the biggest big-government agenda to come down the road in a long time. Same-sex "marriage" proponents have a simple formula for "marriage equality:: Love + Commitment = Marriage + Government Affirmation.. How many times have you read their leftist rants about the x thousand federal and state benefits denied same-sex couples? Marriage is their route to demand more from government--more benefits that almost inevitably arose from a policy concern that a married person carried a greater burden and deserved perks because (once upon a time in a land called America) married couples bore the burden of childbirth, nurturing, and formation of new citizens and taxpayers. Obviously, same sex relations don't provide a single child intentionally or accidentally; the relationship is profoundly and qualitatively different than the union of a man and a woman. Duh.

    But it is not just the expanded entitlements that drive the "big government" bus here: it is the larger question of "how big must a government be to deem sex irrelevant to human relationships?" The answer is dang, dang big: big enough to create layer upon layer of new "non-discrimination" regulations. Big enough to force time honored charities--including adoption agencies that existed BEFORE states even developed their regulatory departments--out of business. Big enough to exclude Christians from professions for fear that they won't serve the ends of homosexuals. This is not a "live and let live" libertarian nirvana being crafted by the left--it is an oppressive, intolerant state that demands perfect "tolerance" of the leftist agenda and will impose its power on those who oppose the agenda. Shame on Stossel for such shallow reasoning; he is capable of better!

  14. Posted September 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    brian, you were clearly repeating memorized talking points. you came off artificial and very unauthentic. That's why Stossel panned you.

  15. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Quite from Brian; "If marriage is going to matter, society needs to acknowledge ...that having children without marriage hurts them,"
    Exactly Brian, which is why it is best that same sex couples who bring up children should also be allowed to marry.

  16. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Valerie, same here. I am also a catholic who believes in the separation of church and state and supports SSM. We are not alone as there are many other catholics who think likewise. According to recent polls we are a majority amongst Catholics - not that I care whether I am in the majority or not.

  17. Louis E.
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Badger,to the extent that you treat same-sex sexual relationships as permissible,and as not harmful to children,you oppose Catholicism.

    I'm firmly secular myself,but it should be noted that while the First Amendment barred a state religion for the USA,into the early 19th century a few of the states actually DID have state religions.

  18. Mary Ann
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Valerie and Badger,
    In the interest of integrity you might want to consider the Episcopalians. You can have a tie to tradition and sit comfortably with the morality of the day.
    A practicing Catholic is not at odds with the Church's teaching in the areas of faith and morals. Unless you'd also like to redefine what it means to be a practicing Catholic.

  19. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    According to a poll out just this week which surveyed Christians, a majority of Catholics support SSM. Amongst the millenials support was almost 70%. So a majority of us is at odds with the current leadership of the catholic church.

  20. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Louis you tell us almost daily that you are a democratic but you are at odds with the values of the Democratic Party.

  21. Paul Mc
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Going back on blog post topic here....

    In other countries allowing gay marriage and civil partnerships or unions , there are no debates regarding extension of rights to polygamous, polyandrous, incestuous, multiple party arrangements etc etc. These are put up as strawman arguments with no merit.

    There is no slippery slope except the one designed to induce fear of change. The reason is that the definition, 'two unrelated consenting adults' is not challenged by gay marriage and unions.

  22. Ash
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    It's funny that libertarians, who want the government out of most things, are trying to get the government involved in same-sex relationships. Wouldn't that go against liberatarian principles, i.e. getting the government involved in areas that are not of public concern?

  23. Louis E.
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Badger,I call out mistakes in the Democratic platform,but I support abortion rights,gun control,national health insurance,am totally opposed to capital punishment or creationism in schools...I am a Democrat in more than party registration.But SSM should have no supporters on either side of the aisle.

  24. Daughter of Eve
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    A couple of thoughts--

    I was disappointed with Mr. Stossel's short-sighted perspective on marriage. For someone who wants smaller govt., marriage between a man and a woman is the way to go. Families headed by a married mother and father need less govt. intrusion/assistance in their lives, not more. Single parent families, and those headed by same-sex parents (wherein one parent is obviously not the biological parent) require more govt. intrusion, to work out the legalities involved. Also, children raised by their own biological parents are much less likely to become involved in delinquent behavior, later in life, than children raised under other circumstances. Delinquent behavior frequently requires the State's intervention. Again, bigger govt. Mr. Stossel didn't do his homework. His responses were trite, and uninformed.

    As for the religious comments, if one looks back to Biblical history, the ancient Israelites were rejected by God for their general apostasy, which meant the majority claimed religious affiliation with a particular faith, but engaged in 1)idol worship--the workmanship of their own hands 2) sexual perversion and 3)failing to keep the Sabbath Day holy. One might say they were "progressive." Such large scale apostasy lead to their loss of divine protection such that they were sacked by the Babylons, later the Romans, and eventually slaughtered, taken captive, and scattered amongst the nations. IE., the majority of those claiming to be of the faith made choices in opposition to the council of divinely called leadership of their faith (who were prophets, acting as mouthpiece for the Lord), and against the lord's commandments, and reaped the consequences. Of course, it's not like the ancient Israelites weren't warned, or given a chance to repent....

  25. Ash
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Daughter of Eve, good point. Stossel doesn't seem to understand that family breakdown necessitates a big government. If he wants to debate ssm, that's one thing. But for him to act as if children should be viewed with an "anything goes" approach, is appalling to me. All family forms are not equally beneficial to children. I usually enjoy Stossel, and, on economic matters, he always seems very informed. But he looked like an idiot on this segment.

  26. catholicdad
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Badger and Valerie are classic examples of the phenomenon of "cafeteria Catholics".

    They pick and choose for themselves which doctrines of the Church they will support.

    The operative principle is "private judgement".

    Which is the precise opposite of Catholicism, when you think about it.......

    If the Catholic religion is True (and, frankly, I am mystified why anybody would want to bother with its immensely challenging moral and intellectual demands if it *isn't), then one believes what it teaches.

    The logical alternative, of course, is to admit that one in fact does not believe whist it teaches, and therefore has ceased to be Catholic.

    But logic, as has been exhaustively demonstrated here, is not the strong suit of the defenders of homosexual pseudo-marriage.

  27. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Catholicdad: you should go to Ireland where nearly the whole country is absolutely disgusted with the current Pope and the Irish President has quite correctly called him out on his reponse to the child sex abuse scandal in the catholic church - the Pope declared that sex abuse was a crime on a par with the ordination of women priests and recommended the same punishment for priests guilty of either. The current Pope is the most disatrous in many a generation and is one of the reasons why today the catholic church has lost all moral authority and young people are turning away from it in droves. It is medieval views like yours which I am afraid will spell the end of the catholic chucrh as we know it within the next generation. The Pope is wrong on SSM just like he is wrong on a range of other issues. I and many other catholics are happy to not be in sync with his views but that doesn't stop us being catholics.

  28. Badger
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Mike of course a constitution demands interpreation. that is my whole point. Moreover, there are certain interpretations of the Constitution that seem to be nearly universally agreed on such as the concept of "federalism" , "separation of church and state" and the system of "separation of powers", and "checks and balances" despite the fact that none of those words or phrases appear in the constitution. Despitre that every schoolchild is taught tthem.

  29. Valerie
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    The Irish prime minister (Taoiseach) in fact, Badger, rather than president but the point still stands. I'm originally from Ireland, and the idea that the Church should be afforded a special position in the state was written in our constitution of 1936. And that sort of special treatment of the Catholic religion led to a whole range of abuses - the sexual abuse of children, the ostracism of single mothers - that went unreported and unpunished for years, thanks to the power and influence of the bishops. It's sick, and that's what can happen if one religion is promoted by the state over all others. That's why I believe in the separation of church and state, in the case of same sex marriage as in everything else.

  30. Valerie
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Just to add, since NOM gloated over the gay Irish Senator David Norris having to drop out of the Irish presidential race - a recent poll showed that about 38% of people would still vote for him if he was to re-enter the race. And that would put him in second position with three months before the election, and the race wide open. Interesting, isn't it?

  31. John Noe
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Ranger had the best post on here by far and proved that a true Libertarian would be opposed to SSM based on those very principals. It is not smaller government but big government in our lives. Two other intrusion points that Stossel missed and Ranger did not point out.

    (1) Legalized SSM has led to more not less government intrusion into private business. Before as a business owner you got to decide if you were going to offer benefits to homosexuals and decide if you wanted to do business with them. Now with SSM you get more big government into your private business matters. A business now must offer benefits to homosexuals against their will. That folks is intrusive big government, not small government.

    (2) What about parental rights and the intrusion of the big government into the homes of parents? Brian reported that with SSM it was mandated and taught in the public schools. They went against the parental rights of those who did not want their children to be forced into this immorality. No true libertarian supports intrusion into parental rights.

    Note to all so called Libertarians. No true liberatarian supports SSM because it goes against their very principal of intrusive big government.

  32. Randy E King
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    2nd place is just the first loser; does not make him any less a loser just because he is the first loser.

  33. Daughter of Eve
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Badger said, " I and many other catholics are happy to not be in sync with his views but that doesn't stop us being catholics."

    This poses an interesting dilemma. If God has called the Pope to be His official spokesman, to say, "Thus sayeth the Lord...," then to criticize official Catholic Church doctrine concerning social issues, sanctioned by the Pope is to, in effect, accuse God of being in the wrong. The Pope is just the mouth piece, right? If he's really the leader of God's Church, then he's not the one making policy, God is. And to be "out of sync" with the Pope is really to be out of sync with God's views, and thus, most of Catholic Ireland is apostate.


    The Pope is apostate, and anyone who follows him, instead of following God, is too, which would naturally call into question the validity of the authority of the Catholic Church to say, "Thus sayeth the Lord."

    Basically, this seems to be a question of authority, with eternal life hanging in the balance.

  34. Louis E.
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    The Pope's position on SSM is the only Catholic position (and happens to be the only correct one,too).Disagreeing with him may not excommunicate latae sententiae but it does disqualify you from representing your view as consistent with Catholicism.

    I'm not religious and consider Catholic teaching wrong on many things,but when it comes to homosexuality,they have nailed it.Since civil marriage is the only kind I can enter into in good conscience,and I can not respect it unless it is exclusively opposite-sex.I can not marry in the state I have lived in my whole life.

  35. Valerie
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Maybe, Louis, I agree personally with the Catholic position on same sex marriage. My point is that my own personal religious beliefs shouldn't be written in law. I have pointed out the dangers of the state promoting one religion over others, and I have no desire to see the same thing happen here. That's my stance on this; that church and state should be kept separate, and in this case that means same sex marriage should be allowed.

  36. Louis E.
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Valerie,I am not religious,and believe there is an enormously compelling secular state interest in discouraging the formation and maintenance of same-sex sexual relationships that would be irreparably harmed by treating such relationships as if of no less worth than marriages.If you agree with the Catholics then why can you not fight for the goal on grounds independent of religion?

  37. Valerie
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Because, Louis, I have not yet heard any compelling and factual and secular argument against gay people getting married. It makes no difference to everyone else, it only affects the families of same sex couples who want to get married.

  38. Louis E.
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    It's not "gay people getting married",it's "people of the same sex marrying each other".Since marriage has no secular or other purpose other than to unite males to females,which is the only kind of relationship there is any public interest in promoting,there should be no civil recognition of any other kind of relationship as a marriage.

  39. Randy E King
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink


    Your secular religion is not the official religion of the United States.

  40. I Realize
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Just let it go, people. Who cares if others are marrying someone of the same sex. Although, I do understand that point about no enforcement of the contract in relation to third parties. But, the first thing people who feel marriage is becoming meaningless should do is to acknowledge that marriage is becoming less sacred.

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