WASHINGTON – Since Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 40 years ago, anti-abortion activists have successfully passed legislation regulating and restricting the right to an abortion, and they have been successful at moving public opinion in their direction. On the marriage issue, though, public opinion has moved in recent years toward allowing the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples, and 12 states and the District of Columbia have redefined marriage. Given that the pro-life and pro-marriage causes are two of the core issues of social conservatives, or the Christian Right social movement, why is the former winning and the latter losing?
This question was put forth by The Christian Post at a Friday panel at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority 2013" conference.
"Ultrasound," Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society, answered.
With ultrasound, Anderson explained, it becomes easier to see the victim in an abortion. With same-sex marriage, though, the victim is not as immediately obvious. The "ultrasound" for same-sex marriage, he believes, will be the social science research, which is still in its early stages, on same-sex parenting.
With abortion, the pro-life movement has been able to use the language of "rights and harms" that is familiar to many Americans, Anderson continued. Those who believe redefining marriage will be harmful for society and a detriment to the common good are beginning to understand this. For this reason, they point to academic research showing the difficulties caused when children are not raised by both a mother and a father, he explained.
Anderson also believes that the pro-marriage argument will be aided when news outlets begin to recognize that there are voices within the LGBT community who also oppose redefining marriage. He mentioned in particular Bobby Lopez and Doug Mainwaring.
Anderson was joined on the panel, called, "Don't Preach to the Choir: Rhetorical Strategies for the Pro-Family Movement," by Jonathan Last, journalist and author; Dr. Diane Medved, clinical psychologist and best-selling author; and Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration. It was moderated by Ruth Malhotra, Faith and Freedom Coalition publication editor.
Last made some points similar to Anderson's in his remarks. He suggested that those who believe in traditional marriage – "the crazy idea that a man and woman get married, they have kids, these kids are important to the world and society has an interest in all succeeding together" – can argue from the data because the science is on their side.
Those who do not believe in traditional marriage have argued that the world is overpopulated, children are more of a curse than a blessing, and cohabitation and single parenting are just as good as a traditional marriage. These days though, one can go to the left-of-center Brookings Institution, Last explained, and learn that all the social science data has proven that to be incorrect.
Further, Last pointed out that liberals are faced with a dilemma when it comes to population growth. While many liberals continue to argue against population growth, and practice this philosophy in their own lives, some of the government programs they support depend upon it. Social Security and Medicare, for instance, are pay-as-you-go systems in which current workers pay the benefits for current retirees. A declining birth rate has already put great financial strain upon those programs.