Control the marriage message

The movement to promote same-sex marriage has been very active and very successful. The movement to promote and protect traditional marriage laws has been very active, and seemingly less successful. What’s the truth?

That’s the key question, actually, and fewer people asking means more power to influence public opinion.

Take this front page story in the New York Times just over 24 hours after same-sex marriage was legalized by the state legislature.

The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

On the first part of that…”shifting public sentiment” wasn’t quite reported that way when the issue was abortion and the polls began to inch over the fifty percent mark. As far as the emotional appeals that struck lawmakers, the overlooked fact is that they’re selective. Lawmakers who voted that way ignored a great number of emotional appeals from all sorts of people who called for the defense of marriage as it has traditionally been known and upheld by the states in history.

As for the “profoundly changing power dynamic”, have gay rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than the Roman Catholic church? And has the opposition to gay marriage been ineffective? Just saying that on the front page of the Times doesn’t make it so (and it isn’t), but since perception becomes reality, let’s check the perception. Or spin.

The Catholic hierarchy has been very present and active in the marriage movement. Especially NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan. After the vote, the bishops released this statement on the USCCB website, written by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, one of the most involved bishops in the marriage debate:

“Marriage, the union of a man and a woman, forms the foundation of social well-being by promoting love and respect between the two most fundamental representatives of the human community,” he said. “The institution of marriage also affirms the vital and unique importance to children of receiving care from both their mother and father together.  Making marriage law indifferent to the absence of either sex creates an institutional and cultural crisis with generational ramifications yet to be seen. To eliminate marriage’s very essence – its essence as the union of husband and wife – from its legal definition is to ignore not only basic anthropology and biology but also the purpose of law generally. Law is meant to uphold the common good, not undermine it. Now, New York’s government will be forced to ignore that children have a basic right to be raised by their mother and father together. Also, as demonstrated in other states where marriage redefinition has occurred, officials there will be in a position to retaliate against those who continue to uphold these basic truths.  This is a mark of a profoundly unjust law.”

It was not inevitable, as big media have suggested or predicted for months now.

Yes, it is true that six states have imposed a new definition of marriage on their citizens. But let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

In the 31 states where voters have been given the choice to redefine marriage — we have won every time. Next November, Minnesota voters have the opportunity to become the 32nd state and North Carolina may not be far behind.

And what about those six states already with same-sex marriage?

Voters in Iowa last year threw out three of their state Supreme Court judges that had decreed same-sex marriage. The Iowa State House has since strongly voted in support of a marriage amendment, and if Republicans can regain the State Senate, they likely will call for a vote in that chamber.

And in New Hampshire, politicians who supported so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ were booted out of office last November. As we write, significant efforts are already underway to oust the turncoat Republicans in New York that switched sides and voted for this new law.

This year too, voter pressure stopped efforts to re-define marriage in both Rhode Island and Maryland.

Friday’s vote in New York may in fact represent the high water mark in the effort to redefine marriage in the United States.

Really? That may be a tough sell. But Thomas Peters says essentially the same thing. Because in an odd sort of way, defeats like this galvanize the Catholic and Christian populace. If only people found such inspiration in time to have changed the outcome to this point…

I’m heartened by the outpouring of commentary in the wake of New York’s move to legalize gay “marriage.” Truly, I am. It means that Catholics care about marriage and are distressed when they see it under attack (as they should).

But the sudden uptick in volume of Catholic voices talking about the threat to marriage represented by its redefinition in New York confuses me, for this reason: we could have stopped it…

And yet, instead of trumpeting the victories in [other] states when they happened, far more ink has been spilt by Catholic voices bemoaning the final result in New York.

There’s a reason for this: Catholic commentary follows mainstream media commentary. The number of headlines earned by a victory for gay marriage far outweighs (I would bet by a ratio of at least 10-to-1) the number of stories written about gay marriage defeats. So a part of this phenomenon is due to Catholics sensing a major shift has happened in the fight to protect marriage only when the media signals us a shift has happened — and the media is careful to only signal such shifts when they like where they think they see things headed.

Control the message.

But there are things to do immediately, as Peters points out in that post. One of them is to get familiar with the debate points, and be ready to engage them.

Two out of the final points he makes are key right now:

As you begin to think about the November 2012 elections, get into the habit now of evaluating candidates and issues in terms of how they impact marriage and the family.

Pray for those who fight to protect marriage and family and work to learn more about why marriage is only between one man and one woman for good reasons.

I talked with Thomas on radio Tuesday, and we agreed that this debate must be engaged on the basis of reason, by informed people, with respect for all viewpoints. Let’s debate these ideas and their merit and consequences, truthfully. And give voice to the people. Backroom deals by politicians demean the process.


Join Mercator today for free and get our latest news and analysis

Buck internet censorship and get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox. It's free and your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell your personal data.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.