Dear Friends of Marriage,
Is our government out of control? A lot of voters are asking themselves that question these days, for a lot of reasons you can read about in the media, or hear on Fox News.
Working to be your voice on marriage has been such an honor and such a gratifying experience. The victories we won together I would not trade for anything in the world.
But this week, I have to tell you, I've been thinking hard about what one sees in the front seat of this battle, about the lawlessness and unresponsiveness of political and yes, even judicial figures.
According to the D.C. City Council's website, they are going to start permitting gay marriages on March 3. Speaking procedurally, this is an outrage. The law clearly gives Congress 30 days to review city council legislation, and that law clearly specifies that it is not 30 calendar days but 30 days in which Congress, meaning both Houses of Congress, are in session. And yet city officials are deliberately and flagrantly ignoring that law, needlessly counting the days Congress was out of session for snow, all in order to rush through a bill as fast as possible.
"The history of liberty is largely the history of procedural safeguards," Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter famously wrote. But gay marriage right now is movement of people who believe that they are right and you are wrong, so their rights count but other people's don't.
The bias of politicians is less shocking that the outright bias of the judicial branch. We saw it first with Judge Walker in the Prop 8 case in California, who so callously ignored the rule of law and elementary fairness that even the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court had to intervene to rap his knuckles. What most people don't recognize is that the same thing is happening all over again in the D.C. lower courts. D.C. law gives voters a limited number of days to collect enough signatures to overrule politicians' decisions like the imposition of gay marriage. D.C.'s constitution--its charter--gives citizens of D.C. the right to vote on City Council decisions. Now the city council is holding that this doesn't apply to gay marriage because protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman would somehow violate the city's Human Rights Code, passed by the legislators. The legislators, in other words, are saying elected politicians can vote to take away D.C. citizens' constitutionally-given right to vote.
We are confident this strange and radical legal argument will fail when it gets to the highest courts. But here's what's happening right now: The lower courts are refusing to rule on this argument. We cannot appeal until they rule. Normally when voters' rights are obviously at stake, courts expedite their decisions. They don't sit on a case and run out the clock and make the situation moot. But that's what we face right now: A judicial system that too often appears to respect the civil rights of only one party to the case. The right to vote is too important a civil right to permit this outrage to go unnoticed. Working with Bishop Harry Jackson and others, NOM will continue to fight for the civil rights of all the citizens of D.C. and for every American who believes, as we do, that our marriage tradition is good, and should be respected and protected in law and culture.
The Maryland attorney general provided another instance of flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Maryland's family code clearly states that "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid." Maryland's highest court recently upheld this law and clearly stated that it was the province of the legislature to change the law, if voters so desired. So why is the attorney general, the state's highest law-enforcement official, ordering state workers to treat as valid gay marriages performed outside of the state? What part of "only a marriage of one man and one woman is valid" doesn't he understand?
This is a movement driven to lawlessness and lies by a self-righteous sense that only they are right, and therefore only they have rights. We are fighting, in other words, not only for marriage but for fairness, for democracy, for the rule of law, for civility and for the ordinary civil rights of all Americans.
Maggie was in West Virginia yesterday, at a pro-marriage rally sponsored by the feisty and impressive young Family Policy Council of West Virginia, headed by an equally impressive young lawyer named Jeremy Dys. In West Virginia, almost 80 percent of Democrats say they want the right to vote for marriage. The threat from the courts is now real and obvious and the only way to prevent the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia from imposing gay marriage is to put the current law in the state constitution. Thirty states now define marriage as one man and one woman in their state constitution. How can something that's constitutional law in Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan and even California be considered too radical for West Virginia? So why are certain West Virginia politicians dragging their heels?
The excuses are getting pretty thin.
NOM began today reaching out to 300,000 West Virginian households to let them know what their politicians are doing--or in this case not doing--to protect marriage. The response so far has been overwhelming! "I've never seen results like this," my tech guy said when he called me to give me the first preliminary reports on how effective NOM's Call to Marriage Campaign has been.
We shouldn't have been surprised. On the steps of the West Virginia capitol building, Jeremy Dys plopped two big boxes on the tables and said, "In these boxes are more than 4,600 petitions, asking for a marriage amendment. We told leaders here we would collect 2500 in less than a week. Instead we gathered more than double that." The crowd went wild. (This morning I got an email from Jeremy saying the count is now over 5,000 and growing.)
This is about whether our government is going to be responsive and honest. The excuses of politicians are wearing pretty thin. There is no good reason to deprive the people of West Virginia of the right to vote on marriage at this point--unless you as an elected official are for gay marriage. In that case you should be man enough to let the voters know.
A few more items of good news you won't hear on the mainstream media, or even Fox News. The Australian senate just followed in the footsteps of New York and New Jersey and rejected gay marriage.
If you have a moment, take a look at the story in the Mormon Times on Cardinal George's historic speech at Brigham Young University on religious liberty. Among other things, Cardinal George pointed to the flood of hatred from Prop 8 opponents as an example of our need to stand together in defense of human rights and human dignity. Speaking of that Prop 8 opposition, the Cardinal said, "What I most regret is not the opposition, that is understandable. ... And those of us who have gay people in their family as I have, know the anxieties and the conflicts in their own life. And we have to be there for them and love them and support them."
But when Prop. 8 opponents "respond by thuggery, by quasi-fascist tactics, then the common good, our whole society, stands in great jeopardy," Cardinal George said.
Thank you again for all you do to make our work possible. These are your fights, and these are your victories. Standing shoulder to shoulder with you in speaking truth to power is, as I said, the greatest honor of my life.
Until next week, keep fighting the good fight! And please, pray for all of those who suffer for their courage in standing for God's truth about marriage.
God's blessing be on you,
National Organization for Marriage
20 Nassau Street, Suite 242
Princeton, NJ 08542
P.S. As we work together to protect marriage, we need your help! We need you to speak out for marriage in your community. We need your donations--whether you can spare $10, $20, or even $200, every dollar makes a difference. And most of all, we need your prayers. Thank you for all you do!
NOM Featured Article
"LDS, Catholics Must Defend Religious Freedom, Cardinal Says"
February 23, 2010
"There is nothing like being in the trenches together to make common cause," said Maggie Gallagher, a Catholic and president of the National Organization for Marriage. "I think we all need the courage to stand up for our core beliefs -- especially the belief that our marriage tradition is good. I'm very grateful for the LDS faith community's leadership, but even more for the ordinary member's ordinary courage. We all admire it and seek to emulate it."
NOM in the News
"The Chastity Ring-Around"
The American Prospect
February 18, 2010
NOM has also launched its own college initiative that emphasizes the "importance of man-woman marriage" and fosters "pro-life, pro-family" student groups. "The social climate on campus really encourages indiscriminate sexual activity, and to some extent, even promiscuity and pornography. We're just coming out of Sex Week at Yale, which is a celebration of unrestrained sexuality," says Dr. Jennifer R. Morse, who heads NOM's Ruth Institute. "If you live the hook-up lifestyle, and you live that way for 10 or 15 years and then decide you want to get married, you have 10 or 15 years worth of stuff you have to unlearn."
"Crowd Asks Politicians to 'Let Us Vote' on Gay Marriage"
February 25, 2010
About 150 people gathered outside the state Capitol on Thursday to say they want voters to decide whether the West Virginia Constitution should ban same-sex marriage.
"Voters May Decide Marriage Issue"
Parkersburg News and Sentinel
February 25, 2010
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia will be holding a "Let Us Vote" marriage rally on the north steps of the state Capitol at noon today in support of the resolution and efforts to get it out of committee.
The event will feature Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage; Randy Wilson, national field director for Family Research Council, and Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia.
"Md. AG: State Can Recognize Same-Sex Marriages"
February 25, 2010
The National Organization for Marriage disagrees, saying the law clearly states only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in Maryland.
"Covering the Prop 8 Trial: Can the Gay Press Maintain Objectivity (And Should It)?"
February 18, 2010
Having served on the board of the LA Press Club with Ted, I suspect this topic was selected long before the San Francisco Chronicle published a political column noting the "open secret" that Prop 8 trial Judge Vaughn Walker is gay -- which I wrote about citing some facts to counter the spin from the National Organization for Marriage. But the timing is terrific because it may well draw many more straight people who quietly have questions and harbor a lingering doubt about Walker -- and our coverage, which is sometimes cited by the mainstream media.
"Women's Dignity: The Forgotten Agenda"
February 25, 2010
I have a radical idea for promoting the dignity of women: the idea that giving birth to children inside marriage is good and worthy use of one's time and talent. This idea has come under assault from many directions. --Jennifer Roback Morse
"Gay Republicans Draw Support, Concern at CPAC"
February 19, 2010
GOProud has a booth at CPAC just two spaces away from the exhibition for the National Organization for Marriage, which wants the government to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"GOProud Director: National Organization for Marriage Are 'Pansies,' 'Wusses'"
The Washington Independent
February 19, 2010
One of the odd coincidences of CPAC is the location of the National Organization for Marriage's booth just 20-odd feet away from the booth of GOProud, the upstart gay Republican organization. On Thursday, leaders of both groups posed for an impromptu meeting in view of CNN's cameras, joking about the possibility of a beer summit. But on Friday morning, the National Organization for Marriage preemptively blasted GOProud in a surprisingly acid press release.
"Ethics Panel to Take Up Donor List Controversy"
Bangor Daily News
February 20, 2010
More than three months after Mainers voted down same-sex marriage, the organization that provided much of the money to the traditional marriage camp is still fighting to block the state from forcing disclosure of their donor lists.
"Southern Evangelical Seminary Event to Uphold Marriage"
The Layman Online
February 23, 2010
The featured speakers for the April 1 event will be Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Robert George, one of the original drafters of the Manhattan Declaration. Their topic will be "Marriage: Why It Can and Must Be Saved -- The Case Against Same Sex Marriage." SES President and host of nationally-syndicated radio talk show "SoundRezn" Alex McFarland said he anticipates the 2010 installment of the series to be the most significant yet.
"Beverly Hills Slams Beauty Contestant for Speaking Out Against Gay Marriage"
February 24, 2010
"I'm not surprised that Miss Beverly Hills, Lauren Ashley, opposes gay marriage -- after all 45 percent of young Californians voted for Prop 8, as did 7 million Californians generally," the organization's president, Maggie Gallagher, told us. "But I have to say, I am impressed with her courage in coming forward and for speaking up for Carrie. The elected officials of city of Beverly Hills are not demonstrating tolerance or kindness by continuing the avalanche of hatred against supporters of Prop 8."
"Beverly Hills Slams 'Anti-Gay' Pageant Queen"
February 25, 2010
The Miss California Pageant is still months away, but Miss Beverly Hills 2010 and upcoming Miss California contender Lauren Ashley has already stirred the controversy after speaking out against same-sex marriage.
"The Fate of Gay Conservatism, Ctd."
Andrew Sullivan (reader mail)
February 19, 2010
There was one point of debate on which I felt you had a strong argument against Maggie that you didn't use: Maggie was constantly trying to throw gay marriage off the table, and yet continued to put it back on the table herself, particularly when she referenced supposed violations of religious conscience related to laws that restrict discrimination by institutions whose religious beliefs define marriage as between a man and a woman. In the context of that debate, she mentioned that part of what makes the traditional definition of marriage sacrosanct is that only a union between a man and a woman can produce new life.
"The Conservative Future of the LGBT Movement"
February 22, 2010
The video is long, so get a snack and a cup of coffee and resist the urge to fast-forward through it. The details are important. And how often do you get to see Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher face off in person?