With same-sex “marriage” becoming an issue in more and more states, it’s more important than ever that we know how to articulate why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.
Public relations matter. It’s true that Christians are often called on to be the conscience of a nation. We must, in the words of Dorothy Day, “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
But to win the argument about homosexual “marriage,” we can’t simply be right. We have to be right, and be persuasive.
That means speaking our message not in the way that makes us feel most comfortable, but in the way that makes others most comfortable agreeing with what they know to be true.
The National Organization for Marriage provides talking points at its website (NationForMarriage.org) that we highly recommend.
The organization says that “extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message” in defending marriage is this:
“Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
The idea is to allow people to express their support for tolerance and their opposition to homosexual “marriage.”
By the same token, the organization says that defenders of traditional marriage must “avoid at all costs” announcing that we want to “ban same-sex ‘marriage.’”
People aren’t comfortable with that — when you ask people to agree with that statement, you lose about 10 percentage points in polls.
We would point out that, popular or not, those words have the more fundamental problem of not being true. We don’t seek to ban same-sex “marriage” any more than we seek to ban “male motherhood.” Neither thing exists; we just don’t want the law to pretend it does.
Here are a few of the National Organization for Marriage’s “Frequently Asked Questions” about marriage — and the answers the group provides:
Q: Are you a bigot? Why do you want to take away people’s rights? Isn’t it wrong to write discrimination into the Constitution?
A: Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that’s pretty offensive, don’t you? Particularly to the 60% of African-Americans who oppose same-sex “marriage.” Marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t new; it’s not taking away anyone’s rights. It’s common sense.
Q: Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?
A: Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.
Having parents of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother — or your father.
Q: Why do we need a constitutional amendment? Isn’t the Defense of Marriage Act enough?
A: Lawsuits like the one that imposed gay marriage in Massachusetts now threaten marriage in at least 12 other states so far. We need a marriage amendment to settle the issue once and for all so we don’t have this debate in our face every day. The people get to decide what marriage means. No end-run around the rules by activist judges or grandstanding San Francisco-style politicians.
Q: What’s the harm from same-sex “marriage”? How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?
A: Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.
If courts rule that same-sex “marriage” is a civil right, then people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.
Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage.
Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.
When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.
One thing is for sure: The people of this state will lose our right to keep marriage as the union of a husband and wife. That’s not right.
Q: Why do you want to interfere with love?
A: Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.
Q: What about benefits? Don’t gay couples and their kids need the benefits and protections of marriage?
A: If medical proxies aren’t working, let’s fix that problem. If people need health care, let’s get them health care. Don’t mess with marriage.
The issue isn’t benefits; it is marriage. Local folks can decide benefits. This is about the meaning of marriage, our most basic social institution for protecting children.
Q: Isn’t divorce the real threat to marriage?
A: High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.
Q: Are you saying gays cannot be good parents?
A: Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.
Q: What about older or infertile couples? If they marry, why not same-sex couples?
A: Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this. It’s apples and oranges.
April 26-May 2, 2009 Issue