Are We Losing the Fight for Traditional Marriage? talked to Dale O’Leary,
author of One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage, about the controversial new California court decision paving the way for same sex marriage.

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InsideCatholic: With the California Supreme Court overturning a voter initiated ban on same-sex marriage, are advocates for traditional marriage losing the fight?

Dale O’Leary: I think it’s scarier than that. We’re losing the right as citizens to petition and change the laws. In one other state, voter-initiated support for marriage is being challenged, too. So I think we’re at a dangerous point in our history when judges have decided that they can create out of whole cloth an entirely new right.

I haven’t read the opinion yet, but I have read many others, and the arrogance is breathtaking. I don’t see what we’re going to do now unless we have a national amendment, and most people don’t want to do that. It’s not something you particularly want to put in the Constitution. But judges are out of control.

They overturned the express will of the voters in California, who supported Proposition 22 by a margin of over 60 percent. And this in a democracy.

Yes. Of course, it isn’t really marriage. There’s an important difference between “can” and “may.” This is not a question of not allowing them to marry — they can’t marry. We’re simply expressing in law what exists already in natural law. A law that denies the natural law is simply not a real law.

What happened in Massachusetts was that the lie that two same-sex people can get married had to be defended with further lies. So you now have to have children taught from infancy that same-sex marriage is fine. You have the case of the Parkers and the other family in Massachusetts who said, “We don’t want our children taught this.” The judge said that since the state now allows same-sex marriage, children need to be taught that it’s okay. But kids know it’s not okay.

They can see it.

Right. But once you start to lie, you’ve got to keep the lie going. So you have the case of a little boy who thinks he’s a little girl. So the school has to tell everyone else — including the kids who know it’s not true — that they should pretend that this little boy is a little girl, instead of explaining that he has a serious psychological disorder which needs treatment.

Every time we speak the truth, that truth will offend the defenders of the lie. In Massachusetts, the Catholic Church can’t oversee adoptions because they won’t give children to same-sex couples. So with each move we make, we’ll come up against this.

You know the line the activists use — “How does marrying the person I love affect you?” Well here’s how. Now we know how it affects us. They don’t simply want to have that relationship called a marriage by law. They have to silence everyone who says it’s not a marriage.

The proponents of gay marriage like to make the claim that civil marriage is a civil right and base their argument on the issue of fairness.

Yes. But the problem with that is that marriage is something. It has two elements — consent and consummation. And consummation requires a specific act. Two people of different genders can consummate their marriage. If they don’t, one of the partners can go to court and say, “We’ve never been married.” Same-sex couples can’t perform the marital act. They can’t produce a baby. And this is crucial, because along with marriage, they want children. And this isn’t in the best interests of the child.

So if they can’t get married, how can we be treating them unfairly by simply pointing that out?

But if this is so obvious, why do so many people — including Catholics — support the idea of same-sex marriage?

People have bought into the idea that people with same sex attractions are born that way, and can’t change. We know that this is not true. If it were true, identical twins would be virtually identical in their same-sex attraction, but that’s not the case.

There was a major study in Australia where they looked at a huge number of identical twins. They found that there were 28 pairs where one or both of the twins had same-sex attractions and in only 11 percent — three pairs — were they both. So that alone says that this cannot be genetic; it cannot be something that happens before they were born.

The evidence is becoming fairly overwhelming that this starts young, very young. That’s not to say that every single person with same-sex attraction experiences this. But it’s the general consensus that it’s something that begins in the first year or two.

Now you mentioned that people with same-sex attractions have a disorder and need treatment. How do same-sex attractions harm those who experience them?

Well, as the therapists say, it’s an attachment disorder. They’re looking for love. Our need for same-sex forms of love precedes our need for other forms of love: We need to be mothered; we need to be fathered; we need same-sex friendships. These are primal needs. The general theory is that most people with same-sex attractions never got these primal needs met, so as they grew, they interpreted these deep desires as sexual desires. Obviously, it’s not a healthy thing to try to meet a non-sexual need sexually.

Of course, you can’t just tell them not to need. They have to find ways to meet their needs in healthy ways: through friendship and mentoring relationships; through God as Father and Our Lady as Mother. These are crucial things that really do help.

I remember talking to a woman who was coming out of 20 years of lesbian relationships and all of them failed. She wondered what was wrong with her. Why couldn’t this work? She needed something so desperately.

So we’re not denying them something that they need. They really do have a need, but this just isn’t it.

You wrote in your book that same-sex marriage is harmful to those engaged in it. But there’s another side to this debate. Specifically, how is traditional marriage beneficial to society as a whole?

The most important thing to society is children. We have tremendous evidence that every child needs a mother and father who are married. The sense of wanting your mother and father to be married and to belong to you is so deep that as we eroded marriage, we lost a great deal. We have to understand that marriage is essential for the well-being of a child. So when we bring same-sex marriage into it, we lose this.

And when we add same-sex relationships, which are very unstable, we bring in a lot of divorce and all kinds of other things. Children love the people who are their parents — the people who take care of them. And they don’t want to hurt them. And of course, parents love their children.

So we’re going to have the children feeling deprived — wanting the father and mother and stability. But they’ll also feel guilty, because the people they rely on have actually denied them this willfully. There’s an old saying that it’s better to have a dead father than a divorced father because there’s an element of willfulness in divorce that isn’t there when someone dies.

Now we’re seeing willful acts where people are producing babies for same-sex couples that are intentionally fatherless and motherless. And that’s a terrible form of child abuse.

The California Supreme Court expressly rejected civil unions as an acceptable middle ground in this debate. Were they right to do so? May opponents of gay marriage accept civil unions as a substitute?

The gay activists have made it clear that civil unions are simply a waystation to get later public acceptance for gay marriage. They’ve also said — in their writings to one another — that the ultimate goal is the destruction of societal support for basic sexual morality . . . chastity before marriage, fidelity in marriage, and permanence in marriage.

I went through tons of literature and never found any gay writers saying they wanted traditional sexual morality. So they see the acceptance of same-sex marriage as also rejecting traditional sexual morality. I don’t think people understand the full scope of their agenda.

With first Massachusetts and now California going the way of same-sex marriage, what can we do to help reverse the trend?

There are two areas of attack. First, people need to know the facts. I often hear very good people believing things that aren’t true. This includes devout priests, bishops, laity, everybody. There’s plenty of information on same-sex attraction. What amazed me when I was conducting the research for my book was that I expected to find arguments and evidence in defense of the pro-gay marriage position. But when I checked the footnotes, they didn’t support their claims. So all the facts are on our side.

The other thing we need to do is pray. The reason we are in this mess is because we didn’t pray for people with same sex attraction. I call it the Glass Closet: We knew who had same-sex attractions, but we didn’t want to say anything. And we didn’t pray for them or support groups like Courage; we left them out there hanging. So they assumed that since the Church didn’t want to do anything for them, they could just go out and live that way.

We need to repent as a Church for our failure to be there to help these people. While it isn’t genetic, same-sex attration is not an easy thing to deal with. It’s not intractable, but it isn’t easy.

No one chooses to be gay.

There’s no evidence that people get up one morning and say, “I think I’ll do this.” Generally speaking, there are childhood experiences that lead to this. Even among those who believe they have chosen it, you often find that their freedom was compromised by sexual abuse, early sexualization and childhood problems.

People with same-sex attractions have the right to our compassion, but they don’t have the right to change the truth. We can understand and sympathize, but we have to speak the truth. We are men and women made by God to be men and women.


Dale O’Leary is the author of The Gender Agenda and One Man, One Woman. Her blog can be found at

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