My Dear Friends,
This is the week that marriage and religious liberty became national issues.
I don't know if you watched the New Hampshire debates over the weekend. I did.
And I saw two things:
For the first time, the mainstream media has decided to echo and push the idea that support for marriage makes you a bigot.
And I also saw major political figures magnificently rebut these attacks.
As you know, the National Organization for Marriage launched a Marriage Pledge last summer, asking major candidates to commit—to sign their name on paper—to five specific things:
- To support a federal marriage amendment
- To defend DOMA vigorously in court
- To appoint judges who will not impose gay marriage on all 50 states
- To investigate the increasing reports of threats to the liberty of traditional marriage supporters
- To restore to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry all agreed to be marriage champions.
(Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman refused.)
Because we adopted the Marriage Pledge as a strategy for identifying marriage champions, NOM will not be making an endorsement.
Instead, we've sought to become the voice for all marriage voters, and to make sure marriage remains a visible issue in this campaign, as in this country.
And wow, this week our marriage champions were magnificent!
ABC News's George Stephanopolous and Diane Sawyer tried to "grill" the candidates on their supposed bigotry on gay rights, and the same questions came up at the debate on NBC as well.
But I want to call your attention to something important which happened this week: The same-sex marriage attack on religious liberty became a campaign issue.
I have to give credit to Newt Gingrich for first bringing up the issue, receiving wild audience applause, and to Gov. Romney, who quickly stepped in to validate and affirm Gingrich's critique from his Massachusetts experience.
Gingrich jumped in to point out media bias: "You don't hear the opposite question asked: Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples? ...Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and bigotry of the Administration? The bigotry question goes both ways... and none of it gets covered by the media."
(He's right about that. That's why we launched our new Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, to bring you the news the media is not covering. More on that in a second.)
Romney stepped in to strongly affirm that Gingrich was right about what happened in Massachusetts. "This decision about what we call marriage has consequences," Gov. Romney said. "...Calling it marriage creates a whole host of problems for family, for the law, for the practice of religion, for education. Let me say this: 3000 years of human history shouldn't be discarded so quickly."
Kudos to both men for braving the media firestorm, and to Rick Santorum for bravely defending marriage as well.
Here's one last video you'll just enjoy: Newt Gingrich the next morning, beating back a CNN anchor who tries to embarrass him on his position:
Do you know who else just jumped in to validate our concerns about marriage and religious liberty?
The US Catholic Bishops just released this morning an important letter from an interfaith group of religious leaders from the "Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, and Pentecostal communities" calling on people of good will to reject efforts to equate traditional views on sex and marriage with racial bigotry.
These leaders point out that the real danger is not that clergy will be forced to perform same-sex marriage: "While we cannot rule out this possibility entirely, we believe that the First Amendment creates a very high bar to such attempts."
Instead, they point out, "the most urgent peril is this: forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct."
Can we really create an America where people who believe sex should be confined to the union of husband and wife are treated like racial bigots?
These leaders say the answer is yes, and the threat is "urgent":
"In short, the refusal of these religious organizations to treat same-sex sexual relationship as if it were a marriage marked them and their members as bigots, subjecting them to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists."
They conclude with this call: "Therefore, we encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined."
For an example of the future Human Rights Campaign is working hard to create for religious people and our institutions, look no further than the state of Washington. There, Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democratic state senator who told her constituents that gay marriage would not happen in that state without a vote of the people, met with this over-the-top response from an angry pro-gay-marriage activist, according to news reports:
"One constituent likened denial of marriage rights to gays and lesbians to racial apartheid in South Africa. 'I saw apartheid, I was in South Africa and I can tell you this is different,' Haugen shot back. She recalled the 'necklacing' practice in which victims were stuffed in a tire which was then set afire."
Let's get real here!
No major spokesman or leader in America wants to hurt gay people, or deny them the civil rights we all share.
The right to redefine marriage is a made-up right, it's not real; it has no roots in our constitution, our history, our traditions, or common sense.
Being denied the right to call a same-sex relationship a marriage is not like what happened to South Africans, or African-Americans.
A movement which makes this argument is rooting itself in wishful self-aggrandizing fantasies which will backfire in the end.
The great thing about working for marriage is that it is an issue that transcends the usual political divides—of creed, of race, and of party.
Democratic leaders are stepping forward on the local level to stand proudly for marriage and we are very grateful to them for their courage!
Another such hero is Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, a lifelong Democrat, who firmly announced he opposes same-sex marriage and predicts the people of Maryland will reject it if the legislature tries to pass it.
And, of course, this week another strong voice made one of his most powerful statements on the need to protect marriage.
According to Reuters, Pope Benedict told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper "settings" and that "pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman."
"This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself," he said.
We have fights bursting out all over in the next few weeks. Gay-marriage activists are trying to block the GOP from reversing gay marriage in New Hampshire, and push through gay marriage bills quickly in New Jersey, Washington state, and Maryland, and possibly Maine. They are laying the groundwork for a fight to push gay marriage in Illinois. We have a chance to pass a marriage amendment in Minnesota in November.
The fight is heating up all over this country, in states and on the national level:
Are we going to discard 3000 years of human history, and redefine our country's Biblical traditions on sex and marriage as the equivalent of bigotry?
Or are we going to fight for marriage—and win?
Thank you for all the victories you've made possible in this good fight.
How bad can things get if we do not show courage now?
NOM's Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance just released this incredibly moving—and yet chilling—video interviewing Eunice and Owen Johns, a black Pentecostal married couple in Great Britain whose own government told them they were not fit to foster a child unless they were willing to advocate for gay sex.
Mrs. Johns is especially tender and moving, about how much she wanted to love a child, any child—gay, straight, black or white.
The empty spare room in their modest home filled with love is a distressing example of how far government may go, in some cases, in condemning traditional Christian views on sex and marriage as bigotry and discrimination.
It's an outrage because just as with Catholic Charities and other religious adoption agencies, the true victims are some of our most vulnerable children in need of care.
Pray for me and for everyone on the front lines of this great and good fight.
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage
P.S. Our fight for marriage is your fight! When you donate to NOM, you're making sure that your voice is heard. The year ahead will bring many challenges, and many new opportunities. Why not take this time to help ensure that marriage is protected—in the new year, and in the generations to come?
This message has been authorized and paid for by the National Organization for Marriage, 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006, Brian Brown, President. This message has not been authorized or approved by any candidate.