No time for pessimism on same-sex marriage

Rod Dreher is a columnist for the
Dallas Morning News. He recently interviewed Maggie Gallagher after
the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in that

I have written recently that while I am
an opponent of same-sex marriage, I believe the other side will win
this struggle, because the country has changed and is changing in
ways that make their triumph inevitable. Maggie Gallagher, one of the
most prominent advocates of traditional marriage in the country,
wrote me recently to object to my position. I asked her if she'd
agree to an interview on the subject. She agreed. Read below
Gallagher's view on why all is not lost for traditional marriage
campaigners -- and why they'd better not give an inch, or "the
churches are going to get rolled." What do you think?

Maggie, you and I are
on the same side of the gay marriage issue, but I am pessimistic
about our chances for success. You, however, are optimistic. What
am I missing?

Gallagher: Vaclav Havel mostly. "Truth and love wlll prevail
over lies and hate." On that basis Havel took on the Soviet
empire. Where is that invincible empire now?

Same-sex marriage is
founded on a lie about human nature: 'there
is no difference between same-sex and opposite sex unions and you
are a bigot if you disagree'.

movements can--sometimes at great human cost and with great output
of energy--sustain a lie but eventually political regimes founded
on lies collapse in on themselves.

don't think of myself as optimistic: just realistic. What does
losing marriage mean? First the rejection of the idea that children
need a mom and dad as a cultural norm--or probably even as a
respectable opinion. That's become very clear for people who have
the eyes to see it. (See e.g. footnote 26 of the Iowa decision).

the redefinition of traditional religious faiths as the moral and
legal equivalent of racists. The proposition on the table right now
is that our faith itself is a form of bigotry.

is gay marriage advocates' prime message point. All warfare,
including culture war, is ultimately psychological warfare. You win
a war when you convince the other side to give up.

now you want to decide we've lost on an issue where, in the March
12 CBS News poll two-thirds of Americans agree with us. I mean,
does this make sense?

opinion hasn't changed much at all. What's changed is the
punishment the gay marriage movement is inflicting on dissenters,
which is narrowing the circle of people willing to speak. This is a
very powerful movement, no question. Nobody understands that better
than I do.

in the end--and this is not necessarily "optimistic" -I
think civilizations that can't hang onto an idea as basic as to
make a marriage you need a husband and a wife aren't going to make
it in the long haul.

I'm not worried about the progressive myth that 200 years from now
gay marriage will be the new world norm. I'm somewhat more worried
about the kind of cultures around the world that might survive.
It's not clear to me they'll have the virtues of American
civilization for gay people or anyone else.

this marriage idea has been around for a long time. I think it has

there's a third reason I'm not in despair. I've learned from five
years in this fight--especially the last two years--that there are
many things I can do that make a difference. I was told--by good
people who agree with me, really smart people too--that California
was impossible; you can't raise the money, nobody cares about
marriage, if you get it on the ballot, we'll lose anyway because
there's a generational shift. And none of that turned out to be
true. Here's the good news: as civilization collapses the
opportunities for intelligent and committed people to make a
profound difference actually increase.

are flocking to the National Organization for Marriage
(, not because we try to scare them about
how bad things are going to be--but because we offer them a chance
to come together with other people of all races, creeds and colors
to stand up for a core and timeless good.

what I know that maybe you can't see: There are enormous untapped
energies out their waiting for someone to organize them

RD: I don't understand why so few people grasp the religious liberty
implications of gay marriage. You've written a great deal about it,
but I keep finding that many, many people remain ignorant. Why?
What message should the traditional-marriage movement - and pastors
who support it - be spreading right now?

Well first of all I'd never use the phrase "traditional
marriage." There's marriage and there's same-sex marriage. I
think that's the single most important answer I have to your

the two most important messages I've been telling people: (1)
Marriage matters because children need a mom and dad. And (2) Gay
marriage is going to effect a lot of people besides Adam and Steve.
Because if you disagree with the government's definition of
marriage you can expect to be treated like a bigot who opposes
interracial marriage.

RD: It's
my view that our side has lost this battle, at least in the long
run, because we've lost the culture. That gay marriage is not a
cause of cultural breakdown, but a symptom of something more
general - which is why it's hard to make our case to many people,
especially younger adults. Thus, I argue, we trads should focus our
efforts on erecting constitutional walls of protection behind which
religious institutions can operate freely - this, before the
culture shifts so profoundly as to make the view that religious
traditionalists are akin to racists mainstream. Bottom line: I
believe we should retreat to a strategically defensible position
while there's still time. You disagree. What's wrong with my

you are bargaining with yourself by saying "give up marriage
and focus on religious liberty protections." The proposition
on the table is your faith is a form of bigotry and Americans don't
grant religious liberty protections to bigots.

There is no offer on
the table for compromise at this point. Go look at my
interview with HRC head Joe Solomonese
Or go listen carefully to HRC's Lara Schwartz response to the idea
of compromise in this
Brookings Institution discussion with David Blankenhorn
Conceding the main point--that our marriage tradition is a
good and honorable thing that deserves respect--is not going to
help you win any religious liberty protection.

are the same fight. Both intellectually and practically. Do we need
to pass more protective religious liberty exemptions? Yes.

need to build effective grassroots organizations in blue states. Or
we are going to lose marriage.. And religious liberty.

the 60 percent or so of Americans who agree with you on marriage
isn't going to help you win any fight at all.

need to do a lot of things but one of the key ones is: we have to
find the people who care about marriage and organize them into an
effective force. Especially in blue states.

don't do that, the churches are going to get rolled.

don't have time for pessimism. The stakes are too high.

Gallagher is President of the
Organization for Marriage
Reprinted with permission of the Dallas Morning News.


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