My Dear Friends,
Let me spend a few moments reporting on events at last weekend's Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC.
Now in one sense this is a secondhand report. (Due to a family emergency I had to to cancel my own appearance and Maggie Gallagher stepped in for me on the panel devoted to same-sex marriage.)
But I think it's worth spending time on because of our larger mission here.
The mainstream media focused on a kerfuffle caused by a Baptist minister who introduced Gov. Rick Perry and urged born-again Christians to vote for Perry because of his religious faith.
NOM issued a press release afterwards that has a very important message. Here's the first part: "We cannot let presidential politics distract or divide us from the larger task of building a winning majority on values."
The race for the GOP nomination includes a number of fine men and women. Those of us in the marriage movement on the more Republican side of politics (we do not forget our many great friends for marriage who are Democrats, like Sen. Rev. Rubén Díaz!) are going to disagree on who the best candidate is, but we have to do so in a spirit that allows us to unite afterwards not only within one party but across party lines—to fight together to overturn gay marriage in Iowa and New Hampshire, for example.
The presidency is urgently important, but it's not the ultimate prize. Victory for the principles of the American Founding—and for God's truths about human nature!—is.
Here's what Bill Bennett had to say about the conflict:
The warm and good-humored response by the crowd to Bill Bennett's call for respect across religious differences was in itself a repudiation of the press narrative that social conservatives are intolerant of the religious differences among us.
Yes, theological differences are real and yes, they matter. We need an America tolerant enough to tolerate robust discussion of theological differences, and committed enough to religious liberty to respect our rights to explore who God is and what He requires of us—because these are the most important questions of all.
But these explorations should not, I would add, take place in a context which seems to call into question our shared rights as citizens. To God what is God's, to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar.
As I said in NOM's press release, "We can not let presidential politics divide us or distract us from the task of building a winning majority of people with shared values. In particular, members of the LDS church should not be attacked or made to feel unwelcome for their faith by the left or the right. ...People of all faiths, and no faith, are welcome to join us to fight to protect marriage as the union of husband and wife—Evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, LDS, Eastern Orthodox, African-Americans, Whites, Hispanics, we are the true diverse rainbow coalition: fighting for the rights of all Americans to vote for marriage."
We are going to continue to press all the candidates for specific commitments on what they are willing to do to protect marriage, and to protect the rights of citizens who are being defamed and harassed for their support for it.
The hatred directed at people who support marriage is becoming increasingly open.
One small sign of the times: Focus on the Family's president, Jim Daly, wrote a letter to the New York Times warning against calling every moral disagreement with gay marriage "hate."
"Hate is too big a word to be used with such little restraint," he said.
Here is how Dr. Katrina D. Foster (apparently a Lutheran minister from Long Island) responded to that civil and restrained note from Jim Daly in a column on the Huffington Post's Gay Voices site. She called her column, "Yes, Anti-LGBT Religious Groups are Hate Groups":
"As a devout, orthodox Christian and Jesus freak, I do not think using the word 'hate' to describe what Mr. Daly and the people at Focus on the Family and other organizations are trying to do is too strong. 1 John 4:20 puts it this way: 'Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.'
"Mr. Daly, you do hate gay people. You just hate to admit it." She then endorsed economic retaliation and exclusion as a good thing: "Mr. Daly may not liked to be called hateful, but he dislikes his funds to be taken away from him even more."
In the face of the wall of this kind of mindless hatred directed our way, how strongly will our candidates support us and our rights, as well as marriage?
At the Values Voter Summit, most of the candidates explicitly said they support marriage.
Here's a rundown:
Ron Paul: nothing about marriage
Rick Perry (like Paul) didn't mention marriage specifically but he said, "The fabric of our society is not government, or individual freedom; it is the family. And the demise of the family is the demise of any great society."
Newt Gingrich: "On marriage, it should be quite clear, on issues like the Defense of Marriage Act, that we should simply say it can't be [repealed], as it simply—you—it's very clear in the Constitution." And also, "But I mean in a sense of arrogance, in a sense of imposing on the rest of us, whether it's one judge in California deciding he knows more than 8 million Californians about the definition of marriage."
Michele Bachmann: "And when we speak in defense of traditional marriage, it isn't because we want to control other people's lives. It's because we recognize the deep roots of natural law and of revealed law and other religious traditions that have united across the centuries, and in the shared belief that it was a holy God who designed marriage for man and woman as the most loving and best environment for the procreation of children." And also: "People said it would never be done, but in Minnesota I fought for seven years and persevered, and we won the issue of defining marriage as one man and one woman. And it will be on the ballot in the state of Minnesota in 2012 because, you see, with a proven fighter in the White House, we will finally win on the issue of life, on marriage, on family, on religious liberty. It's time that we score some victories for our movement."
Mitt Romney: "But we know that marriage is more than a personally rewarding social custom. It's also critical for the well-being of a civilization. That's why it's so important to preserve traditional marriage, the joining together of one man and one woman. And that's why I will appoint an attorney general who will defend the bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton, the Defense of Marriage Act."
Rick Santorum spoke for marriage and life with particular eloquence, and was rewarded with a surprise third-place finish in the straw poll: "And that means standing up and defending the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman—not backing away from it, standing up for it. And there's one candidate in this race who has gone to state after state and helped fight those battles not just for the federal marriage amendment, but understanding that the—the—what the left is trying to accomplish in marriage is what they did with abortion: pick off a few states, get the courts to say, ah, we can't have different laws on the issue such—fundamental as marriage, and then have the courts decide it. We must fight in every state to make sure that marriage remains between one man and one woman. And as president, I will do that."
Santorum, Bachmann, Romney and Perry have all signed NOM's marriage pledge, which includes a commitment to support a federal marriage amendment, to appoint pro-marriage Justices and attorney generals, and to take seriously the harassment of pro-marriage citizens in the public square.
But Herman Cain has refused to do so, and yet is emerging as a strong contender among many values voters.
Here's what Cain said at the Summit on Marriage:
Herman Cain: "I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And I would not have asked the Department of Justice to not enforce it. I would have asked the Department of Justice to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act."
Is that good enough?
I don’t think so.
Four years ago, remember that candidate Barack Obama claimed he supported traditional marriage too. The last four years are ongoing evidence that we need to demand more from the men and women who would be our president than ritual expressions of values; we need their commitment to act.
To date, the only specific commitment Herman Cain has made is that he would be willing to defend DOMA, a law passed by huge bipartisan majorities and signed into law by Bill Clinton, in court.
Being willing to defend the laws of the country is a pretty low bar for a president.
We need to have higher aspiration than that as a movement which represents not only the majority of the American people but the vast majority of Republican voters. At NOM, on your behalf, we continue to push to hear more than that for marriage from all the candidates in this race.
Maggie stepped in for me at the Values Voter Summit panel on same-sex marriage and hit it out of the ball park:
NOM’s own Thomas Peters also spoke on a Values Voter panel with Lila Rose featuring next-generation leaders on life and marriage.
"The breakout session was well-attended, maybe 80 people, mostly NextGen types. I was speaking for many when I said we must lead, because we have more of a future to save and to fight for! And I said we must also be vigilant that our right to speak the truth about fundamental things like life and marriage is preserved. We're natural online activists so don't forget to speak up for the fundamental truths of life and marriage online!"
Those of you who do not yet know Thomas Peters, let me make a prediction: You are going to hear a lot more about him in the coming weeks and months—and about other great young men and women who are increasingly recognizing that yes, it takes courage to defend marriage as the union of husband and wife and yes, that is precisely what they are called to do.
At the Values Voter Summit, House Speaker John Boehner reiterated his commitment to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, saying, "If the Justice Department isn't going to defend this act passed by Congress, then we will."
God bless him!
And we should thank him! Believe me, he's hearing from those who want gay marriage. He needs to know that we appreciate his courage and his decency in stepping forward to defend marriage and democracy from Obama's lawless refusal to defend either!
Thousands of you already have in response to NOM's email alert. Thank you!
If you have not, could you take a moment to go now and thank Speaker Boehner?
In New York this week, the four Republicans senators who betrayed their constituents to vote for gay marriage are getting a very public payoff. They're getting a fundraiser, according to the New York Times, which will raise more than forty pieces of silver—a million bucks. Expect to hear a lot about in in the mainstream media.
This is part of a sophisticated plan by major GOP donors to remake the Republican Party, as the Conservative Party has been remade in Great Britain—so that voters who care about marriage have no party to represent them, and therefore no voice.
God forbid it!
Truth forbid it!
You and I know that millions of decent, loving law-abiding American believe in the core truths expressed in Genesis (and repeated by Jesus): We are made male and female.
We are called to come together in love to commit ourselves not only to each other but to the future—to the children who are counting on us to stand up for the idea and the ideal that both mothers and fathers matter to their kids.
Together we are making history happen.
Thank you again—for your friendship, your prayers, your courage and your loyalty.
It's an honor to know you and to help serve as your voice for our shared values.
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage
P.S. Can you help in the fight to defend marriage? Whether you can give $20 or $200, know that you are making a difference. You are making certain that your voice and your values are heard!