Is This Dr. King's Dream?


National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

It was a hot summer day in August 1963. When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the podium, the eyes and ears of a nation, indeed the world, paid him their full attention. And his words that day seemed to shake mountains. They stirred the hearts and minds of all that heard them, not only that day, but in every generation that came after:

[E]ven though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. [...] I have a dream today!

Dr. King's dream lives on, for his words are as true as the day they were first spoken: "If America is to be a great nation, this must become true."

The struggle for civil rights in America as envisioned by Dr. King is ongoing, and I am personally very honored and proud to be able to call some of its greatest leaders my close friends and allies: people like Bishop Harry Jackson, Bishop George McKinney, Bishop David Hall, Pastor Eugene Rivers and so many others. And of course, there is Dr. King's own heroically pro-life, pro-marriage niece, Dr. Alveda King.

In a particular way I acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude the work of the Coalition of African American Pastors, led by Reverend Bill Owens and his wonderful wife Deborah, with whom I have been able to work closely over the years and whose excellent work for the true legacy of the Civil Rights movement cannot be praised too highly.

I say the true legacy of the Civil Rights movement because these great men and women know, as well as you and I, how that legacy has been hijacked by those who try to claim it for the purpose of redefining marriage and imposing a radical redefinition of the family on our society. They know — as we all know through simple common sense — that this hijacking is a travesty and an insult.

They know that the fiction of genderless marriage... the denial of children's right to the love of a mother and a father... and the denial of the important irreplaceable roles that men and women separately bring to parenting... they know that none of these is part of Dr. King's great dream which has helped so much to shape our nation over the past forty years!

Speaking on the fateful day this past summer when the Supreme Court handed down its Windsor decision striking a key component of the Defense of Marriage Act (on June 26th, almost exactly two months before the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's speech), Reverend Bill Owens and CAAP lamented this distortion of the true legacy of Civil Rights:

The civil rights movement was hijacked. What we went through for several hundred years and what we fought for and they went to our playbook and it's not over yet. [...] Our children are being left out of the equation. A child has the right to be raised in a loving home by a mother and a father.

Reverend Eugene Rivers and Kenneth D. Johnson have condemned the same sad trend in powerful terms:

It is especially sad and disturbing that many self-proclaimed civil rights leaders have failed to resist corruption and co-optation by the homosexual movement. People who should be vitally concerned with promoting marriage and rebuilding the institution of marriage in African-American communities are either silent or complicit in a campaign which, if successful, will trivialize marriage. [...] No community has suffered more than has ours from the weakening of the institution of marriage at the hands of purveyors of the doctrines of the sexual revolution.

Very cogently, Bishop George McKinney has pointed out that there is good reason to believe that Dr. King himself would be on the side of true marriage were he alive today, based on his traditional Christian views on how civil law is properly ordered. Bishop McKinney observes:

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," wrote, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."


Each of us has the right to choose how and with whom we love, certainly. But none of us has the right to redefine marriage, which was not created by government but by God and is engraved on the human heart.

On that great and historic day of August 28, 1963, Dr. King gave the final and emphatic description of his dream in terms borrowed from Scripture, from the prophet Isaiah. He spoke of the day when "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

He then said that it was "with this faith" that he and his brothers and sisters in Civil Rights would go on and pursue that great dream.

This faith inspired Dr. King's vision of a day when "all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics" would come together to promote policies for the common good.

There's no question that the fight to preserve marriage does exactly that. As my good friend, Bishop Harry Jackson, has said:

Few issues in American history have brought together more people from vastly different political and racial backgrounds than the fight to preserve traditional marriage. African-Americans have joined with people of all races and creeds to resist the radical effort of activists to redefine marriage and family.

You see, the truth of marriage — a truth recognized by virtually every creed and nation since the dawn of time — is the truth that man and woman are made for each other, made by a Creator who loves and cares for His children and who alone grants true freedom.

On this day commemorating a great man and his great legacy for our nation, I hope all of us will pause a moment to reflect on the great gift of marriage as it has been granted to us. I hope we will honor the heritage of Civil Rights, and do our part to help its continued advancement, by standing up for true marriage.


Marriage — which brings men and women together, uniting them in love to each other and to the children born of their union — serves all of society well, and does not discriminate on the basis of race or creed. In that way, marriage truly can be said to be a part of Martin Luther King's great dream. And it's our dream, too.


Brian S. Brown

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