Dear Friend of Marriage,
What is a "sacred value"?
I got to thinking about that after this interview with the Los Angeles Times on the changing message of advocates of gay marriage:
The message "used to be one that focused on rights, parity in benefits," said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group based in Washington, D.C.
Since about 2008, Sainz said, same-sex marriage activists have begun "talking about love, honor and commitment."
Then the LA Times quotes my response:
"Our messaging hasn't changed because it's based on truth and reality," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "It's not that complicated. You don't need sophisticated talking points to present a common-sense truth."
What gay-marriage advocates are now doing is trying to make gay marriage into a "sacred value," something every American is bound to uphold.
The broad and deep traditions of the American republic are being co-opted into making a strange new god of gay marriage.
This is an amazing process to watch unfold, the audacity of it and, in the end, the meanness of it.
For a fine example of this strange process of transforming gay marriage into a secularist's "sacred value," watch this video:
You could call this video "A British dude at Harvard lectures Gov. Chris Christie about the sacred rights of Americans."
He's criticizing Gov. Christie for vetoing the gay marriage bill.
Now, I've had my issues with Gov. Christie—his judicial appointment of a pro-gay-marriage advocate to the state supreme court is unconscionable and will hurt him with conservatives for years to come.
But watching gay-marriage advocates go after Gov. Christie for keeping his campaign commitments is astonishing:
"Gov. Christie faced a clear moral choice that day—would he stand strong against the voices of inequality in his party? Would he finally grant equal rights?"
"Or would he buckle under the pressure of his presidential ambitions, back down in the face of bigotry and fail to take the principled stance?", the British guy went on.
The lecture continued. The British dude from Harvard quotes the Federalist Papers. He quotes James Madison. He quotes the 14th Amendment. He quotes the New Jersey constitution. He quotes the oath Gov. Christie "solemnly swore" to uphold the constitution—"so help me God"—before accusing Gov. Christie of oathbreaking and, well, something close to treason:
"When that bill crossed your desk protecting the inalienable rights of the citizens you represent—the rights you swore to protect, you had a chance to fulfill that promise. ...[T]housands of citizens who looked to you for leadership.
"Instead of leadership you revealed your cowardice. You took that pen, and with your veto, scrawled on the constitution of New Jersey and on the Constitution of the United States of America; you have betrayed your country, you have embarrassed your state, you have broken the oath you made before your God—and you are not welcome here in Massachusetts."
Here's where it gets really weird. Amid signs saying things like "Bigot go home," the high-minded rhetoric goes out the window and the British dude from Harvard descends to this imbecilic chant:
"Chris Christie, go away, you're not welcome in MA."
He seems to think that gay marriage is such a sacred right that he's entitled to purge an entire American state of anyone who disagrees with him.
Now at one level this is a ridiculous comparison, morally speaking. The 14th Amendment was designed to protect African-Americans from truly serious threats to their human rights. Black people were enslaved. After they were liberated from chattel slavery—which took the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the Civil war—a whole political system was erected in many states systematically to deprive African-Americans of genuine basic human rights, like the right not to be lynched, the right to vote, the right to be protected by law in their persons and property, and the right to an education.
Gay people in this country face real problems now. But to compare the absence of a legal basis in New Jersey to call your relationship a marriage to the profound deprivations of human rights which the 14th amendment is designed to address is just childish in the extreme. It is "fantastic" in the literal sense—rooted in fantasy, not in reality—sad and childish and in the end, mean.
But it is also part of a plan. Marriage is sacred to most Americans. As the LA Times reporter's story notes, asking for benefits proved a faint pathway to gay marriage because "sacred values" like marriage have a power over the human soul and mind that benefits packages do not.
There's actually a whole social-scientific literature on how "sacred values" affect people's decision-making processes.
When asked to trade a "sacred value" for an ordinary benefit, people find the decision-making process easy. Sacred values take precedence. But when the choice is between two "sacred values"—what one set of researchers called a "tragic tradeoff"—people find the choice much more difficult and much more painful. (If you want a peek into this research literature, one example is this 2008 study by Hanselman and Tanner: "Taboos and Conflicts in Decision Making: Sacred Values, Decision Difficulty and Emotions" [pdf].)
Emory even released a study this January which showed that "sacred values" are actually processed in the brain differently from ordinary values.
Hence the deliberate and strategic effort described by the Los Angeles Times, and evidenced by our Massachusetts anti-Christie Harvard protestor, to make acceptance of gay marriage mandatory by raising it to the level of a "sacred value."
Perverse, I know. Corrupt, I would also argue. It's part of what we are called to face and fight in these times in which we live.
The British guy from Harvard also lectured Christie, "You don't put civil freedoms on the ballot. ..You don't risk inalienable rights on a poll."
Gee, someone has forgotten to tell Equality Maine that.
In Maine, gay-marriage advocates are trying to pass gay marriage via the referendum process, reversing the vote of the people in 2009 which rejected it.
It's a big fight, one of many we face this year. But we have some good news from the latest PPP poll. The pollster, a Dem firm, tried to spin it as good new for gay marriage—but, well, judge for yourself. When the actual language the voters will see on the ballot this fall was put before voters, only 47 percent said they would vote "yes." (32 percent said they would vote "no" and a suspiciously large number of people declined to say either way—experience shows us that these people are mostly with us). It's easier to get people to vote "no" in a referendum than "yes." It's a big fight but it looks eminently winnable if folks in Maine can get their message out.
Speaking of sacred values, the media has spun a recent statement by the Catholic Bishop of the Maine diocese that he will not formally join the committee fighting the referendum as: "Maine Diocese Says It Won't Campaign Against Gay Marriage." I know Bishop Richard Malone. He told the press he means to fight hard to educate every Catholic in Maine on the meaning of marriage. He wants lay people to lead the political fight, but we expect him to be a strong and effective leader helping in this fight in a new way.
Good news too from a new public poll by Civitas in North Carolina, where the people will vote on a marriage amendment in May. Support for the marriage amendment is growing strongly:
A majority, 64 percent, of North Carolina voters say they support a constitutional amendment that establishes marriage between one man and woman as the only recognized domestic legal union in the state... Thirty percent said they oppose it and six percent are undecided or do not know.
While Black voters continue to strongly back the marriage amendment by a 40% margin the biggest move this month over last was the move of unaffiliated voters from a plus 11 percent margin in January to a plus 24 percent margin in February in support of the marriage amendment.
Why the growing support? It's partly the leadership of the black churches. The Southern Baptists have also moved strongly in support of the amendment. But frankly, it probably has something to do with the new lawsuit filed trying to impose gay marriage by judicial fiat, the pollster notes:
When asked a follow up question concerning a lawsuit filed by the Guilford County Register of Deeds seeking to declare North Carolina's current marriage law unconstitutional, sixty percent of respondents said that would make them more likely to support the Amendment, which includes twenty percent of those who say they opposed the amendment when first asked.
Finally, even the mainstream media is acknowledging this piece of good news: the Republicans who betrayed marriage in New York State are facing tough political fights as a result. Just watch this video: "Same-sex marriage vote could hurt Senate Republicans."
Here at NOM we are very busy, winning impossible victories for your genuinely sacred values—for the rights that are given to us not by government but from the hand of our Creator Himself. Thank you so much for making all these victories possible! I am so honored to be your voice for your values.
Please pray for me and my family—and for everyone who is on the front lines in this fight for God's truth about marriage.
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.