My recent appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" sparked quite a bit of conversation about the ongoing debate on marriage. One of the points (that I tried repeatedly to get across) is that there should be an honest debate, where people of good conscience are allowed to express themselves without being demeaned or marginalized. Everyone should be able to speak without retribution: gay Americans, Christian conservatives, libertarians, traditionalists who are not religious, and social liberals. Political correctness shouldn't be used to stifle debate. Sensitivities are running high, and with so much at stake, more, not fewer voices should be part of the dialog.
Like millions of other Americans, I don't have a "traditional" family. I am single with three children--not exactly "Leave it to Beaver" stuff. Like millions of other Americans, I have family members and close friends who are gay, and whom I love, respect and admire in many ways. For many years, I have supported state decisions to provide domestic partnership benefits and protections. But I am also wary of unelected judges upending thousands of years of societal experience. I suspect a whole lot of people in this country hold a similar view. They go to work, pay taxes, follow the rule of law, volunteer in their communities. Some are Christian. Others nominally religious. Still others not religious at all. Today these people routinely hear that they are "standing against the tide of history," are or called "intolerant" or "anti-gay."
In a short period of time, the pro-gay marriage forces marshaled an impressive array of supporters, and with vast resources, launched a sophisticated brand of "marriage equality." The dynamic was brilliantly framed as a "civil rights issue" with the help of the entertainment industry and a sympathetic news media. They also seized on the disturbing divorce rate among hetero couples. (The argument: so who are they to dictate the terms of an institution they screwed up?) Those favoring traditional marriage were caught off guard—and were blindsided when numerous Republicans (who have long promoted themselves as the traditional values party) lined up to support gay marriage. For the most part, supporters of traditional marriage aren't single issue people, and don't have huge advocacy groups supporting their views. For many, a Biblically-based understanding of marriage is sufficient. O'Reilly rightly argues that you have to go beyond the Bible to convince the non-believers. (Again, his using the "thump the Bible" phraseology wasn't helpful and sounded like something one might hear from the Left.) On the other hand, in the current media frenzy for gay marriage, it is extremely difficult for "traditionalists," (as O'Reilly calls them) to get a fair hearing--no matter what arguments they use or how "smart" they fight.
Many have noted that the social science on marriage this question is spotty--certainly not enough to overcome thousands of years of experience and understanding--about what is the best path to foster societal harmony and raise children. By the way, who bears the burden of proof on marriage? Those who seek to maintain what has been the status quo for millennia? Or those who seek to redefine its meaning? What would that "proof" look like? What would be the objective metrics? Would it involve a long-term, unbiased study of children raised by two same sex parents as compared to two heterosexual parents? Will "marriage" be further defined by courts or legislatures to include other associations or groupings? Finally, can it really be the case that the only sitting president in our history who was properly enlightened on this aspect of social policy is Barack Obama? Were Lincoln, Adams, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, JFK, Carter, Reagan--and until recently Bill Clinton--all misinformed or bigoted or close-minded in their thinking about marriage?
Let's continue talking about this and the larger culture. I'll be back on the air Monday.