Category Archives: NOM Marriage News

France, euthanasia and counter-civilization

Bishop John Strickland–bringing Light and Leaven to the world

Husband, wife, or ‘partner’? How words can shape ideas about marriage

As a fan of British television, I am also a fan of certain “British-isms” that are foreign to the ordinary American ear. For example, there’s a certain colloquialism, originally associated with the north of England, but now used more broadly, though not without affectation. It involves the ungrammatical use of the past participle of certain verbs. The most common instance is the verb “to sit.” Thus, one might hear a Britisher reminiscing about childhood saying something like, “I remember weekend mornings coming downstairs to find Mum sat there reading The Sunday Telegraph .” Grammatically, one ought to say Mum “was sitting” there; or else that one found her “sitting” there. I suppose if one had reason to employ the perfective aspect, or, I suppose, if you wanted to speak in a more perfective aspect and wanted to make clear that the action not only happened but also ceased in the past, one could describe how she “had sat” there or “had been sitting” there. The point, though, is that it’s ungrammatical to speak of Mum “sat” there like this. Nonetheless, I find it charming. (If I may be allowed a geeky aside: the way this usage seems to function is by oddly blending subject and object, or the active and passive voice. It sort of tricks the mind into imagining a fuller context of the verb: mum “had sat herself” there—or, more fancifully, she “had been sat” there by some other agency or power—fate, habit, or the household gods, I suppose. But in any case, this seems akin to the Irish-ism of using “himself” or “herself” in subject or nominal predicate positions: “Himself isn’t home at the moment.” It would be a fascinating linguistic study to find whether there’s any association between these sorts of usages, or to what cultural or socio-economic forces they may relate.) 

Forgive me my tangent, though. What I intended to write about is the fact that, while I do enjoy many of these quirky Britishisms, there’s one that positively rubs me the wrong way: a usage which thankfully never gained much traction here in the States (though it did enjoy a certain vogue for a time among certain people), but is very common in England. That’s the use of the word “partner” in place of “spouse” or “husband/wife.” 

Now, I’m not entirely sure of the origin of this silliness in England. I can recall that here in the US, at least, when briefly this did have some currency, it seemed tied up with political correctness. Though the word “non-heteronormative” (a pox upon it) was unheard of back then, looking back we could fairly say that in today’s terms that the use of “partner” in place of “spouse’ seemed to have once come into fashion in order to eschew “heteronormativity.” As I said, I’m not entirely certain of whether the origin of the usage in British English was for similar reasons, but I think it likely enough.

As this word “partner” popped up several times in things I’ve been watching recently, and each time grated my nerves like a wrong note in a familiar song, I finally decided to try to analyse (see what I did there?) why it bothers me so much. And that reflection proved more fruitful than expected. Indeed, I don’t think it is too bold to say that, in a sense, the whole history of the changing mores and values around marriage over the past three or so decades could be written around this one term. I’ll explain what I mean.

For one thing, there is a sense in which the term “partner” used this way seems odd or even anachronistic now. Granted, “spouse one and two” or “partner one and two” are still sometimes sought after in certain official applications as politically correct or “sensitive” alternatives to the old “husband and wife.” But there’s also a feeling that we’re well past such quaintness. Nowadays, many gay couples seem perfectly content to refer to themselves as “husband and husband,” “wife and wife,” or even as “husband and wife” in a gender-bending sort of way. Indeed, they might find “partner” as somewhat offensive in its attempt to be inoffensive, a relic from and reminder of a time when the public wasn’t ready to hear a lesbian speak of her “wife” or a gay man his “husband.” It’s arguable whether as much of the public are ready to hear this now as the LGBT activists seem to think, but the movement has certainly abandoned such timidity on the whole. That sort of sensibility seems oh, so utterly ’90s now. Even I, when I hear someone speak of his or her “partner” today, am struck in the manner that I am when I hear someone rather over-pronouncing words like “empanada” or “burrito” when ordering Chipotle. It’s seems more than a bit too precious. In this fact of the sudden seeming outdatedness of such usage, though, we catch a glimpse of how complete and total has been the conquest by the LGBT movement in the areas of ideas, language, and values, and how thorough the normalization of same-sex ‘marriage.’ The Overton window hasn’t so much shifted as it has been shattered and the wall that housed it blown out, in favor of the much more modern “open concept.” So open have we become conceptually that, in a very short period of time, far from being jarred by hearing a woman speak of having a wife, we are now expected to hear with placidity a woman refer to herself as a husband !

Secondly, this shift in language shows the real nature of the change from marriage as the union of a man and a woman to a union of any two persons regardless of sex. Time and again, in the push leading up to the decision in the Obergefell case to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, we were told that this wasn’t a change in the definition of the institution. This was an impossible bluff, however, as the cards were already face up on the table in the usage of the term “partner.” If you look in a dictionary for the definition of partner , you’ll find persons in romantic relationships included as one meaning of the word. But this is a relatively recent usage, as can be seen by comparison with the definition of partnership . Here, the primary meanings relate to business and contractual relationships, e.g. , “a legal relation existing between two or more persons contractually associated as joint principals in a business.” Quelle romantique! Indeed, the great ironic is that it’s generally frowned upon for persons in a partnership, classically defined, to begin sleeping with one another—but suddenly people who shared a bed and a home, and maybe even offspring, started referring to one another as each one’s “partner.” Marriage, though, is not a partnership. It isn’t even, except in a secondary sense, a contract. It is a covenant . The contractual element only enters in with the broader society and its interest in legally codifying, promoting, and defending the status of marriage. It wasn’t until very recently that the married persons themselves began conceiving of themselves as mere parties to a contract, like leasing a Prius.

In their 2012 book, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense , scholars Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George define marriage this way:  “Marriage is, of its essence, a comprehensive union: a union of will (by consent) and body (by sexual union); inherently ordered to procreation and thus the broad sharing of family life; and calling for permanent and exclusive commitment…” Does “partner” seem a congruous term to this description? Or might we suppose that part of the move toward the “partner” terminology was bound up precisely with rejecting one or more of the facets of this definition? Partnerships can be broken as easily as made, can be fleeting and—something all of the Supreme Court Justices dissenting from Obergefell pointed out—needn’t inherently be dimeric or two-partied: there is nothing intrinsic to “partnership” that demands monogamy, exclusivity, and life-long permanence. The shift from the idea of “spouse” to “partner,” then, seems related necessary cause, if not indeed sufficient, for why we are now hearing rumblings of expanding marriage even further to include groupings of more than two persons—“throuples” or whole group marriages.

Finally, a last point we may take away from this reflection on the term “partner” in place of more traditional terms is the most obvious one, which therefore must take the anchor position of emphasis at the end: namely, ideas have consequences and words have meanings. Not only do words have meanings, but changing words can have the result of changing meanings and values: and one wonders if this wasn’t the long-game all along, behind this playing with the words to describe wedded couples. When the term “partner” used in this way first began to pop up in popular culture, perhaps we thought it of little import, not something to get too worked up about, just another quirk of language like misuse of the past participle “sat.” But as we sat and watched, that subtle revision in language became part of the mechanism by which our culture changed around us. It is a cautionary tale, and a lesson we’d do well to learn, as ever-more neologisms pop up around us daily: terms like “dead-naming,” “cis,” and the nonsense pronouns, “zie, zir, and zirself.” These rare and marginal usages might become the norm of thought in the future, if we’re not careful.

I close with an observation by my favorite writer, G. K. Chesterton, that I think not only captures the power of language to change thinking, but also the audacity of how progressive movements will manipulate language. He wrote: “The modern man, regarding himself as a second Adam, has undertaken to give all the creatures new names; and when we discover that he is silly about the names, the thought will cross our minds that he may be silly about the creatures. And never before, I should imagine, in the intellectual history of the world have words been used with so idiotic an indifference to their actual meaning. A word has no loyalty; it can be betrayed into any service or twisted to any treason.”

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Not “I” But “We”: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Parting Witness to the Power of Marriage and Family

With the recent passing of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Judaism has lost one of its leading lights and the world has lost one of its most powerful moral voices. Described by American University Professor Akbar Ahmed as “one of the great sages of the Abrahamic faiths,” Rabbi Sacks was an international religious leader, philosopher, theologian, author, and politician who served as Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, member of the House of Lords after being knighted, professor at New York University, Yeshiva University, and King’s College London, and Senior Fellow to the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. He received numerous awards for his work, including

18 honorary doctorates; a Bradley Prize for being “a leading moral voice in today’s world”; the Templeton Prize for his role in advancing public appreciation for the spiritual values of all faiths; the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute for his “remarkable contributions to philosophy, religion, and interfaith discourse… as one of the world’s greatest living public intellectuals”; and the Becket Fund’s Canterbury Medal for his role in the defence of religious liberty in the public square—the same honor bestowed on such notables as Elie Wiesel, Charles Colson, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and IOF’s own honorary board member, President Dallin H. Oaks.

Rabbi Sacks was also an eminent biblical scholar, renowned public speaker, and prolific author of 37 books, including Morality , published just months before his passing on November 7, 2020. According to NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt, “If the prophets of the Hebrew Bible came back to guide liberal democracies and anxious citizens through this difficult time, but first they studied modern history and social science, this is the book they would write for us.” Distilling the wisdom of Rabbi Sacks’ remarkable lifetime of learning and service, the book offers a sure guide to a faltering world. “A free society is a moral achievement,” he explains, and the essence of morality is “a concern for the welfare of others” along with “a willingness to ask not just what is good for me but what is good for ‘all of us together.’ It is about ‘Us,’ not ‘Me’; about ‘We,’ not ‘I.’”

Unfortunately, continues Rabbi Sacks, “there has been too much individualism and too little of the moral bonds that lie at the heart of friendship, family, and community”—bonds which “make us larger than we would be if we focused on self-interest alone.” And here he waxes personal in telling of the experience that changed his life. “As I write these words, Elaine and I are looking forward to our golden wedding anniversary. In the TED Talk I gave in 2017, I spoke about our first meeting. It took place in Cambridge, England, where I was a philosophy student… One day early in my final year I saw, across a college courtyard, a girl who was everything I was not. She smiled, she radiated sunshine, she was full of joy. It took me three weeks to put aside metaphysics and say, ‘Let’s get married.’ Forty-nine years, three children, and nine grandchildren later, I know it was the best decision of my life, because it’s the people not like us who make us grow. Marriage is the supreme embodiment of openness to otherness.”

It is also the facilitator of civilization itself, he insists in an impassioned plea. “The family—man, woman, and child—is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love. It is where we learn the delicate choreography of relationship and how to handle the inevitable conflicts within any human group. It is where we first take the risk of giving and receiving love. It is where one generation passes on its values to the next, ensuring the continuity of a civilization. For any society, the family is the crucible of its future, and for the sake of our children’s future, we must be its defenders.”

Rabbi Sacks’ clarion call is part of a chorus of voices by religious leaders such as Pope Francis, who declared, “Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself…. The future of humanity passes through the family. So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always.” Likewise President Russell M. Nelson, speaking at our World Congress of Families in Amsterdam, warned, “On all sides, the family is under attack. Many wonder if the institution is no longer needed. Our response is certain. If there is any hope for the future of nations, that hope resides in the family. Our children are our wealth; our children are our strength; our children are indeed our future!” We invite you to join with IOF in answering the call of these visionary leaders as we accelerate our work at the forefront of defending the family.

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The Atlantic Wonders, “What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?”

A Catholic priest once shared with me an insight he’d gleaned during years of preparing engaged couples for marriage. Whether the insight was his own, or something he’d picked up from reading or listening somewhere, I don’t know. I just remember the phrase and how it stuck in my mind. Increasingly, he said, he’d found that couples showed a tendency to “want to spend a lot more time and effort preparing for the wedding, which lasts a day, than they do preparing for the marriage, which lasts a lifetime. ”

It’s a pithy statement; and it rings true. As divorce rates have risen dramatically in the course of the last several decades, surely the question of preparedness for marriage must be part of any analysis of the trend. On the other end of the question is the matter of marriage being delayed for many couples until later in life, if not foregone entirely—replaced by years-long, live-in relationships with no legal (but no fewer emotional and psychological) strings attached. It’s gotten to the point that, in the rare instance of a couple getting engaged in their early twenties, the reaction of society is such that one would think the young lovers had expressed their intention to fly to and colonize one of Jupiter’s moons. 

A piece published this week at The Atlantic provides some insight into at least one aspect of how young people may be ill-prepared to enter the marriage contract, lacking the affective maturity necessary and also having wrong-headed ideas about what makes marriage the special relationship that it is. The piece, by writer Rhaina Cohen, is entitled, “What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? ” and it details the experience of many people who have faced a particular dilemma in their romantic relationships: they are uncomfortable with the idea that such a relationship can in any way supplant or supersede their existing friendships. In the first paragraph, Cohen illustrated the case-in-point by way of quoting the experience of one young woman named Kami West, who after “a distressing experience in her mid-20s” with a boyfriend who seemed jealous of her best friend, a woman named Kate Tillotson, henceforth took pains to make sure the confusion that had distressed her would never be allowed to arise again. With her latest boyfriend, West explains, she laid it all out for him:

“‘I need you to know that [Tillotson’s] not going anywhere. She is my No. 1,'” Cohen quotes West as telling her boyfriend. Cohen goes on: “Tillotson was there before him, and, West told him, ‘she will be there after you. And if you think at any point that this isn’t going to be my No. 1, you’re wrong.'”

“She will be there after you. ” This single phrase sums up one aspect of how West’s view of her romantic relationship is out of step with conventional and traditional understandings of marriage. For, after all, if West is planning—or at least open—to marrying her boyfriend one day, then it seems odd to speak of a relationship coming “after” her relationship with her boyfriend: because marriage is a life-long commitment, ‘until death do us part.’

Cohen details the experience of many other individuals in her story in order to illustrate her point. More on these later. But first, what is that point Cohen is seeking to demonstrate? She writes [emphasis added]:

In the past few decades, Americans have broadened their image of what constitutes a legitimate romantic relationship: Courthouses now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Americans are getting married later in life than ever before, and more and more young adults are opting to share a home rather than a marriage license with a partner. Despite these transformations, what hasn’t shifted much is the expectation that a monogamous romantic relationship is the planet around which all other relationships should orbit .

By placing a friendship at the center of their lives, people such as West and Tillotson unsettle this norm. Friends of their kind sweep into territory typically reserved for romantic partners : They live in houses they purchased together, raise each other’s children, use joint credit cards, and hold medical and legal powers of attorney for each other. These friendships have many of the trappings of romantic relationships, minus the sex.

It is telling that it is Cohen herself that connects the emergence of such trends around friendship with the rise of same-sex ‘marriage.’ One of the sets of friends whose experience she covers is two gay men named Joe Rivera and John Carroll, who “met at a gay bar in Austin, Texas [where] Rivera was the emcee for a strip competition, and Carroll won the $250 cash prize.” The men live together, and Cohen describes their relationship as being “like brothers,” though Cohen quotes Carroll as describing their situation thus: “we have a little married-couple thing going on even though we’re not married.” Cohen calls this one of many typical “mixed analogies” that describes the new phenomena of intimate friendships she is investigating. She later details more about the men’s relationship, wherein she seems to make clear that their living situation is platonic and non-sexual. But at the same time, she quotes Carroll in a telling passage where he explains his view of his relationship with Rivera in contrast to “expectations” about romantic relationships and friendship more generally:

Carroll, who met his platonic partner, Joe Rivera, at a gay bar, describes [the] type of romantic relationship [where people ‘rely… on their spouses for social and emotional support’] as “one-stop shopping.” People expect to pile emotional support, sexual satisfaction, shared hobbies, intellectual stimulation, and harmonious co-parenting all into the same cart. Carroll, 52, thinks this is an impossible ask; experts share his concern.

Note how casually “sexual satisfaction” and “harmonious co-parenting” are thrown together as mere items in a list, clearly suggesting that they have nothing to do with one another and are easily extricable from one another.

Cohen is right in one respect: experts are concerned about this. But it is a different set of experts, and a different manner of concern, than what she chooses to focus on in her piece. She quotes “sexologists” and psychotherapists who all seem to think the traditional idea of all-encompassing conjugal union unhealthy and outdated; for example, a philosopher named Elizabeth Brake who “takes issue… with the special status that governments confer on romantic relationships” and the fact that “access to marriage currently hinges on (assumed) sexual activity.” All over this piece is the implicit challenge: What does marriage have to do with sex? Why should it have anything to do with sex?

This is precisely the challenge that the other experts mentioned above—the ones left outside Cohen’s research—have been preoccupied with for many years. In their 2012 book What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense , authors Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George foresaw how this problem is tied up directly with proposals to grant same-sex couples the privilege of ‘marriage.’ In a section of their book headed “Undermining Friendship,” the authors explain how changes to views about friendship and the “revisionist view” of marriage go hand-in-hand:

Revisionists cannot define marriage in terms of real bodily union or family life, so they tend to define it instead by its degree or intensity. Marriage is simply your closest relationship, offering the most of the one basic currency of intimacy: shared emotion and experience. As a federal judge recently put it in a case striking down California’s conjugal marriage law, “ ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”

The more we absorb this assumption, the less we value deep friendship in its own right. Self-disclosure, unembarrassed reliance, self-forgetfulness, extravagant expressions of affection, and other features of companionship come to seem gauche—or even feel like unwelcome impositions—outside romance and marriage.41 We come to see friendships as mere rest stops on the way back to family life. It becomes harder to share experiences with our friend that we could just as well have shared with our spouse, without seeming to detract from our marriage.

The conjugal view, by contrast, gives marriage a definite shape, as ordered to true bodily union and thus to family life. If the revisionist view sees single people as just settling for less, the conjugal view leaves room for different forms of communion, each with its own distinctive scale and form of companionship and support. It keeps from making marriage totalizing: it clarifies what we owe our spouses in marital love; what we owe it to them not to share with others; and what we could share now with them, now with others, without any compromise of our marriage.

In short, what the authors mean is simple: if you remove sex from marriage, if you make “sexual satisfaction” and “harmonious co-parenting” mere incidental list items of things two people can do with one another that have nothing to do with a life-long conjugal union of monogamous and exclusive intimacy, then marriage is just another form of friendship : and it therefore comes into conflict with and can be pitted against friendship in general, or with this or that particular friendship in the instant.

The logical end of this is the reversal that Cohen’s piece seems to push toward, quoting figures like Carroll and Blake: why shouldn’t friends be allowed to marry? If marriage is no longer conjugal, no longer tied with procreation and parenting, is just seen as being a particularly intense friendship, why do we still narrowly view marriage as having an implicit connection to sex? But of course, perhaps the crises marriage faces with respect to divorce and so much else are bound up precisely with the increasing pervasiveness of this logic. Committing to a friendship has no essential or rational demand of exclusivity, permanence, or monogamy, those characteristic features of the conjugal union.

Kami West, in explaining her friendship with Kate Tillotson, demonstrates the topsy-turvydom that comes from mixing up these categories: her friendship is the thing that’s permanent, that will last, but her relationship with her boyfriend, even if it becomes a marriage, might be a transient reality: Tillotson “was there before him,” and she would be there “after [him]. ” In West’s case, the juxtaposition has already become complete: for her, marriage has become friendship, and her friendship is like a marriage. But when marriage and friendship are blended together in this way, the result isn’t that either institution becomes stronger: it is that we lose both . And it seems that’s what Cohen would have us do.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justices Signal Willingness to Reverse Ruling Imposing Gay ‘Marriage’

In a surprising and virtually unprecedented commentary issued on Monday, two US Supreme Court justices publicly signaled that they are willing to reverse the Court’s narrow 5-4 ruling in 2015 imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation in the Obergefell v Hodges case. In a procedural opinion issued this week in a different case, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for himself and Justice Samuel Alito that the “right to same-sex marriage…is found nowhere in the text [of the Constitution].” He called it “an alteration to the Constitution” and said that the decision whether or not to change the definition of marriage should be left up to the states.

The declaration sent shock waves throughout the homosexual community. A pro-gay writer at Slate magazine minced no words about the importance of this development: “If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed [same-sex marriage] is likely doomed.”

The news was welcomed by pro-family groups such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM’s president, Brian Brown (who also is the publisher of said, “For many months, NOM has pointed out that we are approaching – if not already at – the point where the Supreme Court’s illegitimate, anti-constitutional imposition of gay ‘marriage’ on the nation in the Obergefell ruling could be reversed. Now two Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, have given voice to that very point. Make no mistake about it – the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is essential to our continuing efforts to overturn Obergefell and restore marriage to our nation’s laws.”

It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process…it is quite another when the Court forces that choice upon society…

Justice Clarence Thomas

Here’s what went down this past Monday: In a written explanation of their decision in a procedural ruling on a case, Justice Clarence Thomas took the highly unusual step of issuing a statement on behalf of himself and Justice Alito that by improperly reading a right to same-sex ‘marriage’ into the US Constitution, the Supreme Court “threaten[s] the religious liberty of the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman.” The Obergefell decision, Justice Thomas wrote, casts people of faith as “bigots,” “demeaning to gays and lesbians,” “imposing stigma and injury” and “disrespectful to gays and lesbians.” But none of those things are true, he said. Instead, the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’ is one that properly belongs to the states, where policymakers could debate the matter including any accommodations they might wish to afford people of faith. That debate was short-circuited, Justice Thomas lamented, by the ill-advised, narrow 5-4 majority that decided Obergefell , Justice Thomas said “It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process…[b]ut it is quite another when the Court forces that choice upon society through its creation of atextual constitutional rights and its ungenerous interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause, leaving those with religious objections in the lurch.”

It is highly unusual for Supreme Court justices to make any comments on a procedural ruling, let alone signal their desire to overturn a major decision such as Obergefell . So where do pro-family advocates stand in terms of being able to secure a majority of votes on the Court to overturn the illegitimate, anti-constitutional Obergefell ruling?

It’s always speculation to predict how a justice might vote on a future case, but here’s how things line up to me:

It takes five votes to secure a majority on the Supreme Court. So we start with Thomas + Alito = 2.

Fellow conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh both strongly believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as written and, thus, are thought to be reliable votes against the imposition of same-sex marriage. That results in Thomas + Alito + Gorsuch + Kavanaugh = 4.

Chief Justice John Roberts strongly objected to the majority ruling in Obergefell, but he can be fickle and certainly cannot be counted on to cast the deciding vote to reverse Obergefel l. So, that leaves us still at 4 votes to reverse Obergefell , with a question mark, among the current justices.

This brings us to Judge Amy Coney Barrett who has a long record of personal support for traditional marriage and has been sharply critical of Supreme Court rulings that articulate so-called “rights” that are found nowhere in the text of the Constitution. If past is prelude, then we have Thomas + Alito + Gorsuch + Kavanaugh + Barrett = 5. With Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court, her deciding vote to restore marriage could well be enough to persuade Chief Justice Roberts to stick with his original opinion and vote to overturn Obergefell as well.

Add this all together and you get a formula that, regardless of Justice Roberts’ vote, would spell the end of court-imposed same-sex marriage, and return the issue to the states where over 50 million Americans have already cast ballots to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Now, there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in this scenario and admittedly it involves a good deal of speculation. Still, it seems clear to me that the issue of the imposition of same-sex ‘marriage’ on this nation is now front and center once again, a development that makes the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett all the more important for conservatives and pro-family advocates.

On this, I am in complete agreement with pro-gay advocates and leftist publications like Slate magazine.

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New Video Makes It Clear Why Amy Coney Barrett Must Be Confirmed

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a key ally of, has launched a powerful new video highlighting the fact that confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court is critical for social conservatives. “All our issues are at stake,” the ad warns viewers, including marriage, life and religious liberty.

The NOM video powerfully shows how the left is reacting to the nomination of Judge Coney Barrett to underscore the importance of this battle. One leftist activist urged Democrats to take to the streets and “physically attack GOP Senators” if necessary. The activist goes on to say “THIS IS WAR!” The ad shows an angry mob surrounding Senator Rand Paul and his wife to show how real this type of threat has become. A tweet by former CNN television host Reza Aslan is shown with his warning to the country: “If they even TRY to replace [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] we burn the entire f*&%ing thing down.” Another activist wrote that if the GOP attempted to confirm President Trump’s nominee “we’re shutting this country down.” After showing a clip of Senator Kamala Harris, the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee, officiating a gay “wedding” in California, the ad urges Americans to contact their US Senators to urge the confirmation of Judge Coney Barrett.

Sources tell that there may be an effort underway by social media giants to suppress distribution of the video. Many people have complained to NOM that they could not reach the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Readers can use the links in this article to watch the video directly.

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What It All Means, NOM Marriage News, October 25, 2013

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

This week the battle for marriage in our country has taught us quite a lot about what this fight means for us and for our country. It has also taught us a lot about the meaning of some other things we take for granted.

What Leadership Means

In New Jersey this week, we learned the meaning of leadership — or, rather, its opposite. Governor Chris Christie on Monday abandoned his principles and the people of New Jersey to the whims of an activist Judiciary when he withdrew his administration's appeal to the Supreme Court of a lower ruling that had ordered same-sex 'marriages' to begin in the Garden State.

As I noted in my comments on the decision Monday, "The mark of a leader is to walk a principled walk no matter the difficulty of the path. Chris Christie has failed the test, abandoning both voters and the core institution of society — marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

To be fair, Christie is not responsible for redefining marriage — that was accomplished by an out-of-control judiciary. However, he is responsible for leaving the field of battle and refusing to fight a principled fight when it was most needed. By surrendering, he has guaranteed defeat in the Garden State.

But while this surrender proved to demonstrate what leadership is not, the same day provided a contrasting image of leadership worth celebrating: that, from Pennsylvania's governor, Tom Corbett.

Governor Corbett was pressured following the Christie administration's announcement to follow suit in Pennsylvania and give up the Pennsylvania government's defense of the standing law in that state that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. But Corbett isn't backing down. He said that the case in New Jersey was "no precedent" for what is going on in Pennsylvania and that he would see the case there through the full process of judicial review. Thank you Governor Corbett for demonstrating what it really means to be a leader!

What Privacy Means

Recently I wrote to our California supporters to urge them to support NOM's efforts in California as part of a coalition to defend students' privacy there against a heinous law recently passed which allows any student to use the shower, bathroom or locker room of his or her choice regardless of biological sex!

We are working with the Privacy for All Students coalition supporting a ballot referendum to overturn this dangerous and invasive new law. Certainly students with gender-identity confusion shouldn't be subjected to bullying or discrimination, but California law already protects students from such discrimination and bullying. Rather than protect against bullying, the new law IS bullying! It violates student privacy and security by forcing them to share the most vulnerable areas of school with members of the opposite sex. Imagine being a high school girl forced to undress before the eyes of an opposite-sex peer, and to be told that his so-called "gender identity" entitles him to shower next to you. Worse, if you complain, you might be accused of discrimination against him!

This is an outrageous new law that is terribly conceived and horribly flawed. It just shows you how much the homosexual lobby thinks it can get away with in advancing their agenda.

Please visit today to find out how you can help us ensure every student in California has the right to his or her privacy upheld and protected by the law! If you live in California, please download a petition and return it promptly. And please consider making a contribution to help the campaign be sure they collect the signatures they need.

What Liberal Thought Means

A remarkable essay earlier this month deserves to be read and re-read by every marriage advocate in our country. It is a great resource for engaging in conversation and debate about this issue, whether at home, at school, around the water-cooler at work, or in the public square.

The essay by James Kalb was published in the Catholic World Report on October 2nd and it eviscerates the liberal thinking that has too long dominated our nation's public discourse, and undergirded the Supreme Court's decisions in June against DOMA and Proposition 8:

Liberal thought is entrenched as the basis for public discussion, and it doesn't like the idea of a network of expectations and obligations to which people are subject other than those generated by state and market. What's just, liberals believe, is for individuals to be free from all social pressure in their private lives as long as they perform their duties as employees, taxpayers, and citizens of a diverse, tolerant, and multicultural society. If people are pressured to act one way or another for some reason other than the needs of liberal institutions, that's bigotry and discrimination, and eradicating it is one of the central duties of government.

However strong and entrenched that way of thinking is, it needs to be disputed and overthrown.

Kalb explains what we lose when we trade age-old institutions like marriage, which pre-exist the state, for a modern notion of rights and privileges which the State arbitrarily creates out of thin air:

If marriage is to be something we can rely on, it can't be a sentimental celebration or optional lifestyle choice whose content depends on the orientation and goals of the parties. It has to be understood as something definite that, simply because of what it is, has intrinsic functions that are basic to human life. To be itself, it must therefore be understood as a union of man and woman that accepts the natural consequences of such a union, and there have to be distinct understandings of men, women, the relations between the two, and what they owe and have a right to expect from each other.

Be sure to read the whole wonderful piece today.

What Fatherhood Means

An article in the Washington Times this week revealed growing concern about "irresponsible fatherhood" in our country and lamented that "despite myriad efforts by fatherhood programs, too many men are ending up in multiple relationships, with multiple children from multiple mothers."

What the article failed to mention was that efforts to protect and promote fatherhood are distinctly at odds with the drive to redefine marriage. Because when marriage is redefined, so is the meaning of fatherhood. Rather than the father being a unique and irreplaceable role in the life of a child, a father becomes merely "Spouse 1" or "Spouse 2" — interchangeable and replaceable, an optional role easily replaced in an 'alternative family' model.

But we did have two shining examples of fatherhood this week, of a kind: spiritual fatherhood. Two great pastoral leaders gave shining examples of what it means to care for the 'children' given to one in ministry.

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, IL responded with a strong press statement to a planned same-sex 'marriage' protest at his Cathedral on Tuesday — part of a larger effort of lobbying by same-sex 'marriage' activists in Illinois who are beginning to see the writing on the wall that gay 'marriage' advocates simply don't have the votes to redefine marriage in this fall session.

In response to plans by a group named the Rainbow Sash Movement to disrupt the Cathedral's religious services on Tuesday, Paprocki announced:

People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.

Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God's forgiveness.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, another spiritual leader has taken a strong stand in the face of plans to undermine true marriage there.

I've told you before about plans by the Richmond City Council to use a same-sex 'marriage' ordinance as a political power play. Well, the members preparing the ordinance are still at it; and that attracted a strong response from a local pastor, Bishop Daryl Husband, Sr. of Mount Olivet Church in Richmond.

Writing at the blog of the Coalition for African American Pastors, Bishop Husband had this to say about the ordinance:

Today I urge the people of Richmond to stand up to our City Council and tell them that the people of Virginia have already spoken on marriage — loudly and clearly. We believe that this vital institution — the bedrock of our society — is solely the union of a man and a woman. This arrangement has served all civilization well for countless ages, and in our day is the best means we have of ensuring every child the opportunity to have both a mother and father. Tell your Councilmember to scrap this terrible proposal, Ordinance 2013-154, and to stop playing politics and get back to work for the people of Richmond.

Bravo to these brave men for standing up for marriage and leading their congregations to do the same!

What Marriage in America Means

Finally, from Hawaii comes an important reminder of something that we here at NOM have always maintained to be crucial for the fate of marriage in the United States. On this important issue, the people should decide!

A coalition called Let the People Decide, of which NOM is a very proud partner, has begun running some wonderful ads in Hawaii and I want to share one with you today. It's especially touching because it reflects the great cultural heritage and richness of Hawaii which some of us perhaps have experienced in visits to the beautiful state. And thus it reminds us, too, that marriage is a universal value that every heritage and every culture has treasured and honored throughout history. Hawaiians are asking for their right to do the same — and I pray that they are afforded that right!

Thank you for continuing to stand strong for marriage and for our treasured freedoms. It is my honor to stand with you.

You Are the Future, NOM Marriage News

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

I want to begin today by sharing with you the video of the panel I participated in last week at the Values Voter Summit on The Future of Marriage with the wonderful Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall from The Heritage Foundation.

The Future of Marriage Begins With YOU

Here's what I had to say about the future of marriage:

This, I believe, is the future of marriage: that if those of us who know the truth about marriage are willing to speak lovingly but boldly the truth that we know in our hearts — that we know through reason, that we know through faith — then ultimately others who in their hearts know this truth... will come back to this truth.

This is written on the human heart — that there's something different about moms and dads, that kids deserve both mothers and fathers — this is written on our hearts. And what we need are people who are willing to stand up — regardless of the names they're called, regardless of the threats that come, regardless of whether supporters of redefining marriage take their 990s and post their names on the internet or whatever else.

What little are we being asked to do! — if we look back at those before us who stood up for the truth, Christians and others through the Civil Rights Movement before! All we're being asked to do is to stand up for the truth... what we know is true in our hearts.... And some of us are never, ever going to be ashamed of that or refuse to stand up to defend it.

This notion was a theme of sorts at the Values Voter Summit: that what we need is for ordinary citizens, individuals like you and I, to stand up bravely and speak the truth without fear or shame.

Jennifer Marshall developed upon the same theme in her response to a question from Tony Perkins. She was asked what she would offer to inspire people to have that courage needed to continue standing up in defense of marriage.

Jennifer drew attention to a joint publication from NOM, The Heritage Foundation, FRC, Focus on the Family, and Alliance Defending Freedom, the booklet What You Need to Know about Marriage:

This is just one example of the kinds of ways that we have been really honing our message and trying to make it accessible for everybody. We did this booklet so that you could take it, digest it, and have these conversations, over the water cooler at work, with your family... we need to really be talking about the case for marriage, and we all need to be equipped with it.

You can get a link to download your own copy of this important resource by visiting this website.

The same theme of citizen activism came up during a Congressional Town Hall at the Summit, when Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.) gave this stirring advice:

What can you do? Listen, folks: if you haven't written a letter to the editor of your local newspaper at least once every six months (and I'd recommend once a month!) then you're not helping like you could. If you're not calling into the newspaper and complaining about leftist articles they've done, and especially opinions they do; if you haven't called your television stations and complained about things, you're not doing what you can do. And when you let your voice be heard, Congress always follows. [...]

The truism has always been consistent, that democracy ensures that people are governed no better than they deserve.... We need to be about deserving better leaders.

Great advice! And I'd encourage everyone to follow it, especially those of you in those states where marriage is currently under attack.

Where Your Voice Needs to be Heard

An article in Crisis Magazine last week by Stephen Beale highlighted just some of the threats to marriage that we're seeing around the nation, and you should really check it out. You might be surprised to find attacks to religious liberty happening right in your backyard in your home state, and think of ways that you might be able to help.

Beale details "at least 11 instances of wedding vendors and venues facing some form of recrimination — threats, boycotts, protests, and the intervention of state or judicial authorities — because they denied services for gay nuptials because of their faith."

He explains clearly how these are linked to the push to redefine marriage:

Such fundamental clashes are linked to the spreading legalization of same-sex marriage. Of the 11 total cases cited above, three occurred within two years of their state legalizing same-sex marriage. A fourth came four years afterwards. Four others were in states that did not have same-sex marriage but had granted some legal recognition to same-sex unions, such as domestic partnerships or civil unions. "When you start recognizing same-sex marriage, these cases are going to start coming up," said Jim Campbell, an Alliance for Defense attorney [sic].

But Beale ends with his own reflection on the future that gives the same spirit of advice we saw coming up time and again at the Values Voter Summit. The advice comes from a Catholic Bishop to his diocese; but it's food for thought for all supporters of marriage in our nation who won't willingly be silenced:

As Christians in the United State wonder on what these cases might mean for them, they would do well to reflect on a letter that a bishop recently issued to his diocese, after losing that state's battle over marriage. The letter is addressed by Bishop Thomas Tobin to Rhode Island Catholics, but his words speak to Christians across the country: "Without a doubt this is a time of challenge, even disappointment for many of us, but it is also an opportunity to be steadfast and courageous, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church. As our Lord Jesus Christ told us, ‘In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world' (Jn 16:33)."

We can welcome this "opportunity to be steadfast and courageous" in various ways, but it starts with being willing to stand up and to defend the truth about marriage without counting the cost.

The Future of Marriage is Bright

It's also good to be reminded that the victory has already been won in the end, because sometimes we see only glimmers of hope and victory for long periods of time when we're in the trenches of these cultural battles. One such glimmer did come this week, though, out of Illinois.

The Illinois Review reports that the proposed bill to redefine marriage in the Land of Lincoln continues to face an uphill battle, and this time because of fundraising shortcomings from those pushing the radical legislation:

Equality Illinois vowed to raise $500,000 to renew the fight this fall. Half of the money was to be earmarked for a "re-education campaign" while the other $250,000 was to fund re-election challenges to lawmakers who would have voted "no" on gay marriage, and to protect those that were planning to vote "yes".

But as David Ormsby reports, despite all the "rhetorical swagger" and "political chest thumping," the organization has fallen far short of its political fundraising goal — raising only $25,421 in the third quarter.

The fact is that the people of Illinois simply do not want marriage redefined and undermined — least of all when the legislature there has so many better things to do with the people's time and resources. It's good to see this fact bearing consequences for the disastrous bill that a noisy minority are still trying to ram through the legislature.

Let's take encouragement where we can, and continue together to stand up bravely for the value of marriage and for the liberties we hold so dear, like freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The future of marriage is ours to make: what will you do today to ensure that future is bright?


Brian S. Brown

Watch What We've Been Up To

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

Good morning from the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC! I just wanted to give you an update on what NOM has been up to recently before taking the stage in a few hours.

This morning at 10:45 am Eastern Time, I'll appear on a panel with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation talking about "The Future of Marriage."

If you are able, I invite you to watch the live, streaming video feed of the panel on the Values Voter Summit home page. If you can't watch this morning, you can visit FRC Action's YouTube page in the coming days and watch the video once they have posted it.

Partnering with the African American Church

I also had the pleasure of attending a banquet supporting the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) last night. CAAP — especially honoree, Rev. William Owens — has done an incredible job of rallying the African American community in the defense of marriage all over the country.

I'd like to introduce you to this wonderful organization by letting you watch the video presentation they played at the dinner:

I make a couple of brief appearances in the video toward the end after they begin talking about the importance of defending the family around the 6:40 minute mark of the video.


Our Chairman, Dr. John Eastman, was also speaking out and making news this past week, as NOM launched our lawsuit against the IRS for its illegal action of leaking our confidential tax documents. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch what Dr. Eastman had to say at a conference hosted by the Heritage Foundation:

The Continued Assault on Religious Freedom

Also in the news this week is an interesting story out of Iowa. The Odgaard family is having to sue the Iowa Civil Rights Commission asking the Commission to declare that the couple was not in violation of the law when they declined to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony by renting out their private property.

Fortunately, our good friends at the Becket Fund are on the case — literally! — defending the Odgaards in court. You can watch this brief video they compiled to learn more about it:

Action Items You Can Take Today

As ever, we remain vigilant on the state and federal level, stoking up grassroots activism wherever marriage is threatened. Please take a moment to look over our current, pressing Action Alerts to see if there is some action you can take to defend marriage in America! It will only take a few minutes of your time!

Marriage Amendment The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act New Jersey

Illinois Hawaii

Finally, in Monday's email we misattributed statements from Laurie Higgins' wonderful article on the Illinois Family Institute blog to the Chicago Tribune. These errors have been corrected on our blog and online properties. Our apologies to all parties for the mistake.


Brian S. Brown

PS: I just wanted to remind you that our matching gift challenge is still active — and will be throughout the rest of the year — so there's no better time to make a donation to NOM to support our work of defending marriage and the faith communities that sustain it. Won't you please consider making a donation of $25, $50, $100 or even $500 or more in support of our work today?

What's more, if you sign up to be a monthly donor, I'll send you a free copy of NOM co-founder and Princeton Professor Robert P. George's book, What Is Marriage? — an essential educational tool for every marriage defender, as well as the best argument ever assembled as to why marriage must be between one man and one woman and why the government has a compelling interest in defending that definition.


NOM National Newsletter

Dear Marriage Supporter,

I have some breaking news for you! Today, NOM filed suit against the IRS over the leak of our confidential tax documents from their offices and to discover how these documents got into the hands of our chief political opponent, the Human Rights Campaign in March 2012.

It's a felony to release or receive confidential tax returns. NOM's case has garnered a lot of attention throughout the course of this year — especially following our chairman Professor John Eastman's explosive testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee this past June. We have been working hard to make sure that not only our rights, but every American's rights, to freedom of speech and association are protected as they should be.

Unfortunately, despite our efforts and the efforts of several members of Congress, the IRS and Obama Administration continue to every request to get to the bottom of this crime and hold accountable to the American people those responsible for this deed. That's why our lawsuit is so important, not only for our case, but for anyone who has been harassed and targeted over their political beliefs. As Dr. Eastman explains in his op-ed today on, "The politicization of the IRS... is a dangerous development, a threat to the liberty of every citizen, and it needs to be stopped. NOM's suit is an important step in that effort."

Dr. Eastman writes,

It was March of 2012. Marriage was on the ballot in 5 states that year: North Carolina in May; and Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington in November. Those seeking to redefine marriage had an uphill battle. 32 states had voted since 2004 to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage by large margins, and no State had voted to approve same0sex ‘marriage.' But campaigns of intimidation and harassment against donors to the traditional marriage cause and its flagship organization, the National Organization for Marriage, had begun to take its toll. The Human Rights Campaign ("HRC"), NOM's principal opponent in these political battles, even had a website, "NOM Exposed," designed to publicly identify NOM and its supporters and donors so they and their businesses could be harassed. But HRC wanted more. They wanted access to NOM's confidential list of donors, lists that NOM is required to file with the IRS but are not public information.

Magically, soon after their president was named a national Co-Chair of the Obama Releection campaign, the HRC got what they wanted. It's an established fact that the information originated with the IRS.

That leak of confidential information had its desired effect. Dr. Eastman explains:

The campaign of harassment and intimidation that had been tried and perfected in the fight over California's Proposition 8 could now begin again in the 2012 election cycle. That effort succeeded. Donations to NOM and to the ballot campaigns then underway became increasingly hard to come by, to the point that the same-sex marriage forces were able to outspend NOM and its allies by more than $20 million dollars (a nearly 4 to 1 advantage) in the 4 States where marriage was on the ballot in November 2012, resulting in the first electoral losses for traditional marriage ever.

What happened at the IRS concerning the illegal leak of our confidential tax return and donor information is the most serious example to date of the kinds of intimidation tactics that same-sex marriage activists use to bully folks and try to scare us from the public square.

And yet it's been eighteen months since the illegal disclosure of our 2008 Form 990 Schedule B which eventually made its way into the hands of the Human Rights Campaign... and no charges have been filed, nor any demonstration made of what internal investigations into the matter involved or discovered. In fact, the IRS claims that releasing the name of the culprit is illegal on the basis of the very same federal statute that was violated in the leak! Talk about an Orwellian irony!

An organization with the power and reach of the IRS must be held to account for the scandal of political targeting, or else our treasured First Amendment rights run the risk of becoming worth less than the parchment they're written on.

So, we'll be fighting the IRS in court to get to the bottom of this matter. This lawsuit goes hand-in-hand with one of our central beliefs as Americans: the belief that no one should ever have reason to be afraid to exercise his or her freedom to speak, write, act, donate, or vote on behalf of the common sense principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

The Human Rights Campaign has a notorious record of intimidation and bullying. Pro-marriage individuals are targeted by HRC and others — such as the Southern Poverty Law Center — with all kinds of charged and libelous rhetoric — such as "hate speech" and "hate groups" — in the hopes that they will feel too threatened and frightened to express their views publicly.

The most flagrant instance of what this kind of uncivil behavior can lead to was seen last August, when Floyd Corkins used the SPLC's "hate map" to compile a list of organizations that he hoped to target in a murderous shooting spree. But for the heroic actions of a security guard at his first target — the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council — there's no imagining what the tragic results might have been.

Of course, Corkins' deadly plans are an instance of extremism. But extremism is no stranger to the HRC. Their stock in trade is bullying, harassment and intimidation. (See their disgusting website, NOM Exposed, for an example.)

One way or another, the HRC is not going to be able to just ignore the felony that has occurred. They are going to have to answer how they came into possession of a confidential tax return and donor information — information that unquestionably originated with the IRS itself — at the very time their president was raising millions of dollars for President Obama's reelection campaign as a national co-chair.

I say "one way or another" — that's because, in addition to the suit we've just filed, there are others looking into this matter. Just this past Friday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's chairman Darrell Issa announced that his committee would be holding an investigation into the IRS's malfeasances as well. In a statement to NRO's The Corner, Issa said:

This information will give us a better sense of why these groups faced delays, what questions they were asked, and what sort of communications were occurring within the IRS in regards to the inappropriate delays and the apparently politically driven leak.

"The truth will come to light," said Shakespeare. But sometimes it needs a little help, and we're going to give it all we can to ensure that the truth of this matter is exposed for the American people. The protection of our core liberties demands nothing less.

As I said, this case is not just about NOM, but about every American's right to the freedoms of speech, religion, and association. I'm glad we've finally filed this critical suit, but NOM still needs to press forward, not just with the case, but with the marriage battles across the country — New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, and in Congress. Please consider a generous donation to NOM today to help us win these fights. And remember, now is a great time to make a gift because your generosity will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $1 million.

Thank you for your faithfulness to NOM and the unique and critical institution of marriage.

Faithfully yours,

Brian S. Brown

Like a Stone, NOM Marriage News

NOM National Newsletter

Dear Marriage Supporter,

"Sank Like a Stone" — that's how same-sex marriage faired in Australia this past week.

Australia held elections for Prime Minister the other day, but it was as much a referendum on whether the Aussies would redefine marriage or not. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd nailed his hopes of winning to a promise of introducing legislation to redefine marriage within the first 100 days of returning to office.

As was reported, the pro-marriage platform of the former Prime Minister "sank beneath the waves" of the pro-marriage majority down under.

You may remember I had traveled to Australia in August for the World Congress of Families, and I could not be happier for the friends I made on that trip and our pro-marriage and family allies there.

It's a great victory for marriage, and a win worth celebrating across the globe. It also serves as a reminder that when people are given the right to vote on marriage, they invariably vote to preserve the true and intrinsic nature of marriage as an institution binding one man to one woman for life in order to love and care for one another and for any children born of their union.

To cement this great victory, the people of Australia should insist on the right to a national referendum to preserve marriage. That's the best way to capitalize on the momentum of the victory, and only an amendment will protect marriage from the unceasing efforts of gay-'marriage' activists and the politicians who rely on them for support. It's the only way to ensure that the people — and not politicians or judges — control the definition of marriage in Australia.

While Here at Home

Speaking of amendments, here at home we're continuing to work to encourage support for the Federal Marriage Amendment being sponsored by Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. We've written to thousands of marriage supporters across the country urging them to invite their own Representative to become a co-sponsor of the proposed amendment. The resolution now has 52 co-sponsors! NOM will be working with our allies on the Hill and among other organizations to keep the pressure on members of the House to support this important bill.

Meanwhile, marriage faces direct threats in the next two to three months, and we're working hard to meet them.

Hawaii and Illinois will have special legislative sessions where activists will again try to ram through legislation to redefine marriage for the people of those states. We've beaten them before — in Illinois, already once this year — but our opponents have amassed more money from homosexual activists and are turning up the heat. New Jersey, too, will attempt to redefine marriage before the end of the year. These are all tough battles in difficult states, but we're going to give our all to prevail.

But to give our all, we need your help. It's your donations that give us the resources we need to continue fighting across the nation and in the halls of Congress. Your generosity funds our calls, letters and rallies that have been so important in these pitched battles. So, if you can help us with a generous gift today as we prepare for battle in these key states, it would be a blessing. (Remember, every dollar you give will be matched by a very kind donor, and all the funds we receive will be immediately deployed to the front where the battle for marriage is being waged.)

A positive state-level outlook comes from Indiana, where the legislature will likely vote in coming months to put marriage on the ballot for voter approval in 2014. We're working vigorously as part of the growing coalition there to ensure Indiana citizens their right to vote on marriage.

In the courts, challenges to true marriage are being argued across the country, and in the near future we expect decisions to come down in states like Pennsylvania and New Mexico, as well as other states.

With all these court fights and legislative battles in full gear, the next two to three months are crucial to marriage in America. It's why the our $1 million matching gift campaign from now to the end of the year is so important. If you haven't take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, please do so just as soon as you finish reading this newsletter.

Confident in the American People

As I've always told you, I'm confident that if America were to vote on marriage, we would clearly win. Like the people of Australia, we know the importance of marriage for men and women and for our whole society, especially children.

We hear a lot that public opinion is shifting away from marriage in America, but that's simply not the case. One recent Fox News poll showed that 56% of Americans "oppose" redefining marriage: continuing proof that marriage redefinition is not "inevitable."

But even more telling is a Rice University poll that has been given little attention. Our friends at CitizenLink brought this poll to light the other day, publishing an article by Jerry Cox, the president of the Arkansas Family Council.

Cox explains how the poll shows that between 2006 and 2012, "if a person was going to change their mind on the issue of marriage, they were more likely to swing toward opposing same-sex marriage than supporting it."

This poll is particularly interesting, because it interviewed people over time. This allows researchers to measure changes in opinion. And contrary to the myth that support for gay marriage is rapidly gainsing steam, the truth is that it's opposition to gay marriage that is growing.

Of course, the media doesn't want Americans to know this, so they refuse to report it. All we get are stories about the "oppressed minority" and how "equality" is being denied.

Stakes Higher Than You Can Imagine

Despite this, glimmers of the truth do get out — such as the Fox poll and the Rice University study. To make sure that more Americans know about this, we as ordinary Americans need to speak out, and to be heard in the halls of power — such as the state houses of Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey. We need to be heard in the courtrooms across the country as well, and we need to be heard in the public squares across the land. NOM is dedicated to helping you have your voice and values heard in all the places of power where the future of marriage is being debated and decided.

We know how much is at stake. Quite literally, the well-being of future generations is at risk. When marriage is redefined, legally or even just 'culturally,' the connection between marriage and children breaks down, and it is the children who pay the price.

One of the most grave consequences of redefining marriage, be it intended or otherwise, is how it leads to other mistakes of definition down the line — for example, mistakes about the definition of parenthood.

Same-sex couples and others are frequently turning down certain technological paths to parenthood which, by definition, deny children of at least one, and very often times both, of their biological parents. In other words, it's becoming more and more a 'new norm' that children are created by design who will be denied their inherent right to know and love their own mom and dad!

Alana Newman has written powerfully about the sense of loss and lack of rights that donor-conceived children feel. Her words are a timely reminder to us, as we blindly follow the urgings of homosexual activists and others in taking step after step into an Orwellian future, that we are creating a whole host of problem for society, and these children in particular.

This madness is certainly not unrelated to cultural urgings toward the deconstruction of marriage. Once we ignore marriage's intrinsic purpose in bringing men and women together to be parents for children, other misunderstandings follow closely behind. Simply put, once marriage falls, parentage falls soon thereafter.

At its core, that's what we must fight against. Marriage is so much more than a private contract and the satisfaction of adults' desires. It is God's design, in His perfect wisdom, for building a healthy society through healthy and whole generations of children.

Let's all be angels here on earth for the cause — speaking the truth in love about marriage, its purpose, its profound good, and its enormous importance to a flourishing society.

Thank you for all you do.


Brian S. Brown

P.S. Marriage's victory in Australia bought them 2 – 3 years to pass a Constitutional Amendment. But here in the U.S. we only have 2 – 3 MONTHS to protect and promote marriage in Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, and New Jersey. And there's only 3 months left to have your donation doubled by our matching gift program. Please take the time to consider a generous contribution today. Two to three months is all we have.

You've Been Framed, NOM Marriage News

NOM National Newsletter

Dear Marriage Supporter,

Prof John Eastman, Chairman of our board, is one sharp legal eagle. Watch him take on and demolish the idea that the Supreme Court has authorized county clerks in Pennsylvania and other states to just hand out 'marriage' licenses to gay couples lawlessly, without even the cover of a court order.

Watch Prof. John Eastman on PBS New Hour lay down the law to James Esseks from the ACLU:

The people that are opposed to redefining the very core institution of marriage are going to continue to fight. Justice Kennedy's opinion in the Defense of Marriage Act case rests heavily on the fact that states are the primary determiners of marriage policy in our country. . . .The statutes and the state constitutional provisions that define marriage as it has been through most of human history, as a man and a woman, don't need to be changed.

All over this country people are facing the question: submit or stand up. Prof. John Eastman points out how many people are choosing to stand up and speak truth to power:

I think the other side of [the] coin is what we saw happen in Illinois. The African-American pastors rose up and they almost single-handedly stopped the redefinition of marriage bill from going through the Illinois legislature.

The new powers want you to believe that giving up is the only option. They are continually coming up with creative new strategies to suppress your rights, and the rights of millions of other Americans who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife.

Karger: "My Effort is to Silence Your Voice"

Our own Chris Plante told One News Now about a conversation he had with Fred Karger, heralded in the gay media for running around the country filing false complaints without any evidence that NOM violates campaign disclosure laws. His hope is that somewhere some minor oversight will trigger an unfair "investigation" and force NOM to reveal its donors to the public. Chris reports Karger is quite open and honest about his goal, "My effort is to dry up your funding stream and silence your voice," he said.

To "silence your voice"—that's what the Fred Kargers of the world want. To silence the voice of traditional believers across the board.

And so the "creative" strategies multiply, because if you can redefine marriage you can redefine election laws too, right?

We have a word for the political extortion dynamic (now unfolding under Obamacare) of a government passing broad regulations and then granting special exemptions to favored businesses (those who donate and help elect politicians): crony capitalism.

We need a new word for the aggressive new attempt to apply that Chicago way to nonprofits.

Laws are enforced unequally with favored groups getting exemptions that political groups disfavored by powerful elites do not get. This is political corruption aimed at our core rights to participate in democracy on a free and equal basis.

Political Exemptions: Your Freedom Redefined

I want to point out to you a story you would otherwise miss, about an "ethics law" championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York requiring nonprofits that do any lobbying at all to reveal their donors.

The law, passed 2 years ago, supposedly safeguards free speech by permitting the state ethics board to grant exemptions to the law for nonprofits whose donors might be endangered by being publicly revealed.

We saw how "state ethics commissions" can be influenced by politics, though, when the Maine ethics commission rejected its own staff recommendations and proceeded to open an investigation into NOM. We saw the same dynamic in Iowa, where the state ethics chairman slammed NOM by falsely describing our legal position to the media. Despite the fact that the Board has confirmed that there is no evidence pointing to any violation on NOM's part.

So now we have a state ethics commission in charge of determining who gets to participate safely in the political process in New York. And guess who is the first, and so far only, nonprofit that the commission has exempted from disclosure law? NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

That's right: government grants a politically powerful and engaged pro-abortion lobby special protections from a law passed by a Democratic governor.

Even the New York Times smells something fishy, noting:

NARAL has been so politically active: waging a campaign last year to help Democrats take control of the State Senate; spending $425,000 on lobbying this year, pushing an abortion rights measure put forth by Mr. Cuomo; and vowing to go after incumbent Republican senators next year.

Donor disclosure laws do not apply to friends of Andrew Cuomo in New York.

Our friends over at New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms are among groups applying for an exemption, but so far: stonewalled.

It's a political protection racket, posing as a disclosure law.

I have to give a shout-out to the New York Civil Liberties Union, though, because they too recognize the threat this law poses to freedom of speech and democratic process:

"People say nasty things about us or call us up all the time, and we can take that," said Arthur Eisenberg, the group's legal director. "It's the individual donors who shouldn't need to take that, and the price of their association with us, and their participation in the First Amendment activity of lobbying, should not be at the cost of their feeling secure and free from threats and retaliation."

Amen to that!

You've Been Framed

Many of you wrote to say you've read the new Public Discourse essay "Now that We are All Haters," about the power of the mainstream media and the gay rights lobby to choose the language, the stories, and the narratives around gay marriage. In particular the power of the narratives that frame those of us who stand up for marriage and the Biblical tradition as "haters" and "bigots".

I should point out (because a lot of you missed it!) this essay is by that other Brian Brown, the Princeton alum who runs Narrator, a communications consultancy that "uses neuroscience and social network theory to build powerful support communities around products and causes."

The other Brian talks about speaking to young conservatives, some of whom support gay marriage but most of whom just want to get out of the crosshairs:

The most common sentiment: even though none thought a same-sex relationship was a marriage, almost none wanted to play for a losing team whose objective was a national stranglehold on people's happiness.

Can we surrender truth to escape the power of their hatred towards us, their capacity to saturate the media with narratives libeling good, decent, loving and law-abiding people as haters?

This kind of media social punishment has a cultural effect, no doubt.

But do the American people really believe in gay marriage?

We got more evidence the answer is "no" from a surprising source: Reason Magazine, which is editorially a pro-gay marriage libertarian slant.

Reason reports on a recent Fox News poll about gay marriage that asked, "using two different word frames," whether folks support or oppose same-sex 'marriage': and the two methods yielded dramatically different results. But both put the lie to the argument that somehow redefining marriage is somehow inevitable.

The first frame asked about "changing the definition of the word marriage to also include same-sex couples", and found that Americans oppose redefining marriage by 56 percent to 39 percent.

But in the same poll Fox asked if respondents would favor "legalizing same-sex marriage." Here Americans split 46 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed with 7 percent undecided—still far short of the supposed majority other mainstream media outlets would have you believe support same-sex marriage.

Americans don't really believe gay unions are marriages. We found the same thing in our November 2012 poll of voters: 3 in 5 Americans said marriage is ONLY the union of a man and a woman.

So don't lose hope. In the end truth trumps falsehood, and the Love that created us will protect those who stand with Him and protect His creations.

That's why I admire you so much; I know it takes courage in the darkness to light a candle, to have faith, and to work hard for what is true, and good, and loving and right.

God bless you and thank you again.

It is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this great fight for the country we love.


Brian S. Brown

Breaking Bad Across the Nation

NOM National Newsletter

Breaking Bad in the Nation's Capital

Dear Marriage Supporter,

Fifty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream:

"I have a dream...when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"

Who would think we would live to see the day when a black Mayor of the District of Columbia would use not only local but federal funds to ban a Grammy-award winning black pastor from performing at a concert in honor of Rev. King because — he believes and says that Christ liberated him from "the sin of homosexuality."

Mayor Vincent Grey admits he made the decision to ban Donnie McClurkin from singing, in spite of a signed contract to do so, because gay activists consider him too controversial — calling him vile and claiming his performance would be at odds with the spirit of Dr. King.

The Mayor's office tried to pretend it was a mutual decision, but Pastor McClurkin is not going to let the lie stand:

The black churches in D.C. are up in arms, but they are not yet able to dislodge the new man-made moral law: "Thou shall affirm all things homosexual no matter what the Bible says." Read their statement here.

Breaking Down Intolerance With Love and Courage

When we first started to point out that gay marriage was not just going to be about private liberty and public tolerance — but would result in limits on freedom of speech and religion — many people called us liars or fools. Now, we are looking more and more like prophets. I wish it weren't so, but things, my dear friends, are breaking bad, very bad.

We will need to draw inspiration and strength from the courageous giants like Rev. Dr. King who faced a far worse barrage of hatred and unjust man-made laws than you and I (God willing) ever will have to face. Men and women like Dr. King faithfully adhered to the most often repeated command in the Bible: Be not afraid.

He spoke truth to power, and never descended to hatred. That's a man of God. That's a man for our time. That's a man for all time.

Breaking Bad in Iowa

It's hard to believe, but even in Iowa opponents of God's design for marriage have resorted to name calling, threats, and bias behavior.

In Sioux City, during the 2010 campaign to unseat three renegade judges, Scott Raasch sent this email to a Christian pastor, Rev. Cary Gordon, who campaigned against gay marriage:

Raasch wrote, "You will get what's coming to you sooner or later. I hope you rot in hell," adding, "I think there are many people that deserve to burn in hell...including you and your entire family."

These are not the words of tolerance or civility, and they certainly do not lift up human rights.

Despite these threats, Mr. Raasch now sits on the Sioux City Human Rights Commission. Even though he's since apologized for his outrageous language, can Iowans who believe in true marriage really expect justice and impartiality when the person responsible for protecting human rights so viciously attacks the right to speak the truth about marriage?

Similarly, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, chaired by a woman who used to work for one of the judges we helped Iowans unseat, is targeting the National Organization for Marriage. After a homosexual activist filed a frivolous complaint against NOM, the Executive Director and General Counsel of the Board effectively convicted NOM in absentia, declaring NOM to be "absolutely wrong" without ever seeing the evidence.

Bias and vitriol are not things I normally think of when I think of Iowa, but this is the fight supporters of true marriage face in that state.

We will stand strong and fight back. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and your prayers.

Breaking Bad at the IRS (Still)

The administrative state has tools to make life difficult for disfavored political groups. And the IRS scandal continues to be a perfect case study.

If you do just one thing this week for marriage, please, write to the House Ways and Means Committee to:

  • demand justice for pro-marriage supporters around this country

  • demand they use the power of the subpoena to get to the bottom of the IRS attacks on the National Organization for Marriage, as well as other groups

  • demand to know how the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) got our private tax documents. We know they originated from within the IRS itself. We know that the head of the HRC was a national campaign chairman for President Obama. Who leaked the documents to our opponents at the HRC, and what, if any, role did the White House play in this scandal?

  • demand IRS Commissioner Steve Miller tell the truth about how a felony can be committed against taxpayers by releasing private information—and no-one get disciplined at all?

Please contact your congressman and demand justice for pro-marriage taxpayers in this country. You can look up your representative's contact information here.

Breaking Bad in the Private Sector

Frank Turek knows what it's like to be targeted for his views and also how a Christian hero responds. You may remember Frank from NOM's MarriageADA video:

He lost a job with Cisco Systems after a student Googled him and discovered he had written a book (check it out here) opposing gay marriage. Not for anything he said or did on the job, but for his political and religious views.

If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, or can travel there, you can hear Frank firsthand on how to respond to persecution from a Christian worldview. He'll be at the 20th Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics "Reasons for the Hope" Oct. 11 and 12 at the First Baptist Church Indian Trail in Charlotte.

Millenials Resist Breaking Bad and Stand for Marriage

Another reason for hope: Chris Marlink's powerful testimony "Millenials Will Save Marriage." Hundreds of young people are pledging themselves to be the MarriageGeneration:

"[H]ere's my counterintuitive thesis: Millennials, that same generation poised to throw it all away, will save marriage. They'll do it the way sailors have made progress in strong headwinds for thousands of years. They'll tack...

Over the next several weeks I'll offer a few of the tacks that millennial Christians can take to redeem and Before proceeding, let me state that I don't believe legally redefining marriage so as to include same-sex couples will be the death of marriage. As I'll explain shortly, marriage is at the center of God's redemptive plan for mankind and is beyond our ability to remake or destroy...

Millennials who hold orthodox convictions on marriage are not in a race to stop marriage from being redefined. Supposing most Americans understand marriage as "love and commitment," then let us acknowledge that this exclusively personal understanding of marriage, sundered from any of the societal implications of the union, already represents a redefinition. Same-sex "marriage" is a near unassailable eventuality if marriage means solely "love and commitment." Our task then, is not to stop a redefinition of marriage: it is to correct a redefinition. It is to redeem and restore marriage in the hearts and minds of our neighbors. If we do that, the law will follow."

Let me close with a reminder of another set of eternal words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr from a letter that he wrote while sitting in the Birmingham jail: " 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."

Have faith and keep the faith: The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. Can there be anything more just than preserving the sacred principle that marriage unites men and women to each other, and provides the ideal environment to raise and nurture any children that are born of that union?

Fight hard for the truth, with love, and pray for all of us on the front lines of the marriage fight.


Brian S. Brown

REALLY?! Abraham Lincoln would approve of 'marriage equality'?! NOM Marriage News

NOM National Newsletter

Dear Marriage Supporter,

The wedding industry attracts a number of devout Christians. It's natural perhaps, given the Bible describes the act of joining a man and woman in marriage, as mirroring God's presence in a special way.

Many of these Christians are now being asked, cruelly, to choose between their faith and their families' livelihoods. The latest case to emerge is in Grimes, Iowa. The Odgaards, husband and wife owners of Gortz Haus, were too honest to lie when a gay male couple showed up and tried to book their venue for their wedding ceremony. Mr. Odgaard asked if they were looking for a place for a gay wedding. When told "Yes" he said, "I can't take your money and I don't do things for free."

"It's not from an angry place," Mrs. Odgaard told the press. It's just that she is a Mennonite and she does not think it is right to personally facilitate a gay wedding. "That decision is based on our religious beliefs. We want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand that comes from our faith, our convictions. I think we should just stand by that no matter what," said Odgaard.

Lee Stafford, one half of the same-sex couple, is having none of that religious liberty talk: "The fact is he discriminated against us based on our sexual orientation. Iowa code says if you have a public accommodation, you can't discriminate based on sexual orientation," Lee told the press. Notice how he changed the subject from "What is marriage?" to homosexuality. But in fact, it was because Mr. Stafford and his partner wanted a "wedding" that the Odgaards turned him down.

When the story broke, the social media trolls ran with the story and the haters went after the Odgaards in a big way, sending them "hateful, hurtful and threatening" emails, Mrs. Odgaard reported.

That's not the way people usually treat each other in Grimes. It's not the way anyone should be treated.

So why this torrent of hatred at someone like Mrs. Betty Odgaard?

Because the haters know that their tactics work: they are engaged in a deliberate attempt to intimidate and repress good people like Mrs. Odgaard and her husband, and to scare people like you and me from raising our voices in public. This personal hate is backed up by the iron hand of the law that is likely to punish the Odgaards for what is now in the government's eyes a crime: failing to assist in a gay wedding when asked, even if it violates your deeply held religious beliefs. In the state's view, you must accommodate gay 'weddings' if you do weddings at all.

But the stakes are so cruelly different: for the homosexual couple, it's "find another wedding venue." But for the Osgaards it's "obey the government or lose your livelihood."

This is no philosophical debate. You'll recall the Vermont couple who faced a similar situation when a homosexual couple wanted to host a wedding at their Inn. They were sued when they explained their Christian views, and were forced to pay a stiff fine and exit the wedding business altogether.

It's imperative that we let people in Iowa and around the nation know what's going on.

We need $3,755 to send a camera crew out to cover this story and other breaking stories as they develop. Can you help us make sure the faces of the victims like the Odgaards don't get buried by the mainstream media? Standing for their faith, the Odgaards are heroes who deserve our support. NOM and our Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance want to help the Odgaards tell their story. Help us make it happen.

Jennifer Thieme, the finance director at NOM's Ruth Institute, is another brave woman, one of the next generation's heroines, who is not simply going to sit back and surrender her right to speak freely about gay marriage.

A few weeks ago in "the Wonk Room," Jennifer took the "Log Cabin Republicans" to task for claiming that support for gay marriage is consistent with the principles of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party.
But one Log Cabin Republican named Angelo objected claiming, "Contrary to Ms. Thieme's assertions, marriage equality is very much consistent with the conservative values of individuality and limited government." He concludes by claiming "equality" as a conservative principle, not only consistent with, but at the core of limited government.

You are going to hear a lot claims like this by the now well-funded "turn the GOP pro-gay marriage lobby." My!, What the kids these days don't know.

But one thing I know about Jennifer is she doesn't back down from a fight!

"The Log Cabin Republicans did not address the central point I made, which is how same sex marriage changes the status between parents and their children," Jennifer Thieme shot back, "The claims for "marriage equality" pale in comparison to the vast transfer of authority from natural families to the state."

She goes on, "Mr. Angelo criticizes my preference for biological parenthood. He doesn't offer an alternative, but the only alternative is unacceptable: to have the state assign parenthood in all cases. That's what "parent 1 and parent 2" means — the biological reality of mother and father is disregarded in favor of subjective definitions."

You don't have to agree with every single word to appreciate the larger truth: gay marriage is a radical — to the root — transformation of our fundamental principles of family law, family life, and the relationship between government and family, and between people of faith and our new government order.

Limited government is based on the idea that government does not get to redefine our reality or our rights. Remember, under the American system we recognize that rights come from the Creator, not government. Respect for marriage and the natural family as a limiting principle of government power is being replaced by a massive new intrusion of government to enforce "equality" laws.

You know who else has noticed how radical Anthony Kennedy's new America is? The polyamory lobby.

Anita Wagner Illig, a long-time polyamory spokeswoman, told Newsweek that the Supreme Court's DOMA decision was opening new doors: "A favorable outcome for marriage equality is a favorable outcome for multi-partner marriage, because the opposition cannot argue lack of precedent for legalizing marriage for other forms of non-traditional relationships."

True to form, exactly as we predicted, the polygamist movement is following the script laid down by the gay marriage activists.

  • Step one: Control the media image: only happy stories about happy polyamorists please.

  • Step two: Make oversized claims for the virtues of this way of life based on personal narratives backed by weak or shoddy scientific evidence. This February, the very first annual International Academic Polyamory Conference took place in Berkeley, California.

  • Step Three: Use the tragedy of family breakdown to justify breaking down some new family norms: "When I think about the number of kids with an absent parent, I think it's pretty great that my daughter has three adults in her life to give her time and attention and care. And with all the varieties of loving, blended families in the world, I fail to see why mine should be considered any differently."

  • Finally, put words in your child's mouth. When my daughter talks about same-sex marriage or polyamorous relationships, she always looks perplexed and says, "I don't understand why anyone is angry about people being in love and not hurting anyone." Make your child into the defender of your lifestyle and protector of your sexual minority rights. Children love their parents to death, they will be happy to repress their ambivalence and defend you.

Ah, those polyamorous "pioneers." Forging Brave New Families. Breaking down stereotypes and cultural norms. Those norms that teach us to cleave unto one wife only and give our children the stability of knowing they come from a family which respects the laws of nature and of nature's God. The norms that provide our children love and stability that come from being conceived in marriage between the mother and father who made you, welcomed you, loved you, and built a family for you.

But don't worry, the Log Cabin Republicans want you to know: Abraham Lincoln would approve of "marriage equality" as a conservative idea.

Abraham Lincoln the American hero who founded the GOP to battle what he called the twin "barbarisms" of slavery and polygamy. Wonder if young Angelo even has a clue about why the Republican Party came into existence.

The postmodern lies multiply on top of each other.

Thank you for being one of the People of truth. Together, with courage and with love, we will not abandon what God has joined.


Brian S. Brown