Dear Marriage Supporter,
The Mozilla controversy continues to draw commentary and attention around the web and throughout the media. Predictably, all this activity calls for setting the record straight on some points of misinformation, just as the always-stilted media narrative demands balance from the voices that you won't see on the late night talk shows.
The Devil is in the (Misremembered) Details
At Slate last Friday, columnist Mark Joseph Stern — who "covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues" — writes about Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's resignation and the Proposition 8 campaign, in an article that undoubtedly deals with LGBTQ issues but seems uninformed by science and misinformed about the law. The article is also fast and loose with the facts about the campaign to which Mr. Eich donated $1,000.00 in 2008.
Stern's piece — entitled "Just a Reminder: The Campaign for Prop 8 Was Unprecedentedly Cruel" — bears this central thesis:
[I]t's easy to forget the vicious tactics of the pro-Prop 8 campaign. Or, I should say, it's easy to forget them if you're not gay — because almost every gay person I know remembers the passage of Prop 8 as the most traumatic and degrading anti-gay event in recent American history.
The tactics used by pro-Prop 8 campaigners were not merely homophobic. They were laser-focused to exploit Californians' deepest and most irrational fears about gay people, indoctrinating an entire state with cruelly anti-gay propaganda.
Stern supports this thesis with four clips from advertisements supposedly run by the campaign to pass Prop. 8, charging ahead to the conclusion that "The campaign's strategy was to debase gay families as deviant and unhealthy while insinuating that gay people are engaged in a full-scale campaign to convert children to their cause. This strategy worked."
But is this conclusion valid? Is the evidence admissible? Or is Mr. Stern engaged in his own underhanded campaign to mischaracterize and misrepresent historical facts?
Frank Schubert, NOM's National Political Director, had the following to say about Stern's piece — and you'll notice from his first sentence that he speaks as one very qualified to address the matter:
I managed the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign and am intimately familiar with the advertising. With the exception of the ad featuring the Pepperdine professor, all the other examples cited by [Mr. Stern] as Prop 8 ads are in fact NOT Prop 8 ads. They were not produced by the campaign, the campaign had nothing to do with them and they never aired on television. They were produced by various individuals on their own and were videos that they distributed with no involvement from the campaign. This is a normal thing in any major campaign like Prop 8. Certainly President Obama cannot be held accountable for the content of independent videos that were produced by individual supporters of his election, and the same holds true for our campaign.
As to the ad featuring the Pepperdine professor, it was a true and correct ad that included citations to support its contentions [emphasis added].
This is an important insight because it brings fluttering down the entire house of cards Stern has built up as a rationale for why Brendan Eich's resignation (for all intents and purposes, a compelled resignation) is somehow justifiable.
In another wonderful piece published this week on the Eich controversy, the Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson cites President Obama as an example of another point:
The outrageous treatment of Eich is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union, a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials. After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.
So was President Obama a bigot back when he supported marriage as the union of a man and woman? And is characterizing political disagreement on this issue — no matter how thoughtfully expressed — as hate speech really the way to find common ground and peaceful co-existence?
Obviously, the answer to Ryan's rhetorical question is an emphatic "NO." As Ryan says, "The debate over the meaning and purpose of marriage will continue. We should conduct it in a civil manner. Bullies may win for a while, but theirs is a scorched-earth policy. They poison democratic discourse and fray the bonds on which democracy itself ultimately depends [emphasis added]."
Undemocratic and Hypocritical
The leader in the public effort to remove Mr. Eich for his contribution to the Prop 8 Campaign was the online dating site OkCupid. OkCupid was among the first to call for Mr. Eich's resignation and for the public to remove Firefox from their computers.
However, among the misremembered details in this story is that Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of OkCupid donated $500.00 to the congressional campaign of Chris Cannon in 2004. Mr. Cannon is a supporter of traditional marriage, having supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman when he was in Congress.
How can one justify that Mr. Yagan has kept his post while supporting traditional marriage and Mr. Eich has not? You can't. The radical advocates of redefining marriage are hypocrites, remembering only the details of history that further their cause. If supporters of traditional marriage are wounded in the process, all the better.
This is not idle sensationalism: this issue has struck right to the very roots of our democratic system. This is why NOM is calling on people to stand up and to say, "Enough is enough!" We cannot allow this culture of intimidation and intolerance, this "poisoning" of the public discourse, to continue.
So we're inviting all men and women of good will to visit www.KeepTheRepublicAndMarriage.com and make a public statement that we will not be bullied and pushed out of the public square. We will continue to exercise our rights as citizens to donate, to vote, to speak up, and to demonstrate on behalf of the value of marriage, in defiance of the McCarthyesque "thought police" who are trying to silence us.
It isn't without reason that some level-headed individuals are raising such dire warnings about what this whole Mozilla fiasco portends.
Mollie Hemingway, in an excellent article published in The Federalist, uses the political thought of Vaclav Havel to raise a warning about how "group think" enables totalitarian tendencies, and how dissent is needed urgently in such circumstances. She warns that even some of those who have participated in campaigns to redefine marriage probably never fully grasped the implications of their actions:
Did we mindlessly put up red equal signs when we hadn't even thought about what marriage is? Did we rush to fit in by telling others we supported same-sex marriage? Did we even go so far as to characterize as "bigots" or as "Hitlers" those who held views about the importance of natural marriage?
...The dissidents are the ones who, by refusing to put the sign up, or refusing to recant, shine a huge light on the system, including the ones who go along to get along. All of a sudden those Facebook signs, those reflexive statements, those cries of "Bigot!" look less like shows of strength and more like shows of weakness.
Meanwhile, news this week came to my attention of one great example of the courage to stand up and speak out in favor of marriage: an example in the form of some college-age young men and women!
"You Have A Voice"
A new group at Notre Dame University, the Cardinal Newman Society reports, is making news for a petition to the administration of the school asking its leadership "to take up the defense of marriage at this pivotal moment in the national discussion surrounding [the] foundational institution [of marriage]."
The group is called "Students for Child-Oriented Policy" (SCOP), and one of its cofounders — a student named Tiernan Kane — explains the petition's purpose this way:
The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato.... As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to — indeed, to lead — public discourse about marriage.
Another co-founder, a senior named Michael Bradley, expressed very succinctly why he thinks it's important that the school's leadership speak up in defense of marriage: "Notre Dame, you have a voice, and it would mean a lot."
Well, this is clearly a case of students becoming the teachers, because Michael's message is a lesson and reminder for each of us, too: "You have a voice."
And there is no lack of opportunity for using that voice!
But you can also use your voice by helping us to spread the word and promote the 2014 March for Marriage!
I was very pleased this week that two leading Catholic figures in the field of family and marriage issues lent their voices in support of the March: Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.
In a letter to their fellow Bishops nationwide, they wrote:
[T]his year's March for Marriage will provide an ideal occasion for participants to celebrate and give public witness to the unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman at a time when the religious liberties and conscience rights of those who promote and defend marriage are increasingly threatened. ... We kindly ask that you promote the march in your diocese and parishes and encourage participation where possible.
Well, today, I kindly ask the same of you.
And, please, by whatever portion your means allow, consider a contribution today to help us make the March as great a success as possible.
You have a voice. Together, let's show the bullies and thugs who want to censor our pro-marriage views that your voice is not alone — that it is, in fact, many millions strong — and that it simply will not be silenced.
Brian S. Brown