I was recently confronted with what some believe is a shift in public opinion on the issue of traditional marriage. The 75 Republican operatives who signed on to a Supreme Court brief calling for a federal ban on state traditional marriage laws were used as the latest example. It is difficult enough to stand against advocates on the Left but it is downright painful to have to stand up to people you thought were on your side. In some cases, it feels like a betrayal.
Why am I surprised? Because the marriage issue does not break down neatly along party lines; this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. For instance, according to Associated Press exit polls in 2008, 70 percent of African-Americans who voted for Barack Obama as president in California also voted for Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. More than half of Hispanics, a group much coveted by both parties, also came down firmly on the side of traditional marriage.
The marriage issue is one of the most difficult issues to address for most people, including Concerned Women for America (CWA). It is emotional and deeply personal. It is much easier to advocate for issues like victims of sex trafficking, the sanctity of life, and the protection of victims of rape, fiscal restraint, or education. I personally find them much more rewarding. But CWA has always stood for truth, no matter who it offends, and we will continue to do so for marriage, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court. Same-sex marriage is not our only concern on the issue of marriage. High rates of divorce, unwed childbearing, and cohabitation are just a few issues devastating American families and children. We should rebuild and restore marriage, not redefine it. If we redefine marriage, then where will it end? We have already seen Hollywood embrace the idea of polygamy, a la Sister Wives. And abroad in Brazil, trio same-sex unions are legally recognized.
The same-sex marriage issue cannot be summarized in a sound bite, which is why the mainstream media does such a poor job of presenting it. If just one line is what is needed, then I would say have to say this: "We love our homosexual neighbors very deeply and, therefore, we would never lie to them, but we will speak the truth in every area of public policy, including marriage." We all have friends and family who are homosexuals, and we love them.
To be frank, it's difficult to write on this issue because of the ugliness that typically ensues from same-sex marriage advocates. They attempt to shut down the debate by saying that this is a civil rights issue, like race. However, the truth is marriage must be colorblind, but it cannot be gender blind. Men and women - regardless of their race - can unite in marriage; and children need moms and dads - regardless of their race. The genders are not interchangeable. Each of them brings something different and irreplaceable to the family.
The bottom line is that marriage is special union created as a holy covenant between man, woman, and God. It is the best institution by which our children are conceived. Marriage identifies the recognizable authority of a mother and a father who are ordained with the responsibility of rearing the future generation. We could never grant these same responsibilities to two heterosexuals who simply live together, because marriage is more than a living arrangement. All the love in the world can't make a mother into a father and a father into a mother. In a free country, everyone is free to live and love as they choose, but no one is entitled to redefine marriage for all of us.
Forty-one states have affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman, because when the government broadens the definition of marriage beyond its traditional parameters, children, communities, and governments suffer. We are already suffering from 41 percent of births taking place out of wedlock in this nation. And for the first time in American history, a record-high 48 percent of first children are born to unwed mothers. We are now at a tipping point. Anything that further erodes and diminishes marriage must be avoided for many reasons. We have thirty years of social science that underscores this point.
In political terms, will we have nine unelected judges imposing their will on future generations? Just like with Roe v. Wade, their decision could ignite a new culture war with lasting consequences. Perhaps in 1973 the Justices made the popular decision, but public sentiment on abortion has dramatically changed. Today, 56 percent of Americans take a pro-life position. And that sentiment increases with each generation. In fact, 72 percent of teens in America believe abortion is morally wrong. Years after their cumbersome decision, even liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg admitted, "Roe v. Wade sparked public opposition and academic criticism, in part, I believe, because the Court ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action." Likewise, the marriage decision does not belong in the Supreme Court. Instead, the Justices need to let the people decide.
Finally, there is simply no way around the clash between our deeply held religious beliefs and the imposition of same-sex marriage by government force. If marriage is redefined, then the family is redefined. This redefinition will require an adjustment on behalf of people of faith in most areas of public life, not the least of which is education. One simply follows the other. If this new union is to be treated in the same way as marriage, ignoring what the social data says, then you must teach it in the same manner in schools. To say that children do not need a mother and a father is simply a lie - a lie with major consequences - because children will act in accordance with what they are taught.
We are already seeing how Christians will be forced to betray their deeply held religious beliefs in order to support this new found "right" to same-sex marriage. In New Mexico, a Court of Appeals charged a Christian photographer who refused to service a "gay" wedding with violating state discrimination laws. In New Jersey, a United Methodist Church was punished for refusing to allow same-sex "weddings" in one of its facilities, the judge finding the need for "some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals." In the states that have embraced same-sex marriage, like Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., Catholic Charities, which does such amazing work to help children in need through adoption and foster care services, has been forced to get out of the business because of the new laws promoting same-sex marriage.
This is what we think. We have come to a point where people of orthodox religious views, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, have to choose between betraying their consciences or taking a stand and facing the force of government and severe harassment. This development in and of itself is a drastic change to the very foundation that gave birth to this great country: religious freedom. We are simply losing it. And in losing religious freedom, we lose America.