A Victory for Free Speech and Children’s Rights at UC Santa Barbara

The Conservative Media brilliantly covered my presentation of the inaugural event of the Anscombe Society at the University of California Santa Barbara. The College Fix broke the story, with an on-the-ground reporter posting within hours of the event, including a video of obnoxious protesters. We got coverage on The Blaze, on the Truth Revolt, and National Review. As great as all that attention was for the newly formed student pro-marriage club, something was missing. Yes, the protestors discredited themselves. But none of the stories mentioned that this event was a clear win: for free speech, for unpopular student clubs and most of all, for children’s rights.

Let me explain.

Prior to the talk, the University demanded extra funds from the club for “security fees” due to the “controversial” nature of my talk. Thanks to the intervention of David Hacker from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the University dropped its demand for extra fees. The fees constituted “unconstitutional content-based discrimination.”

Victory #1. The Alliance Defending Freedom got the University of California to stop its unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

All was calm the night of the event. But a few minutes prior to the 7 PM start time, a group of about 25 students marched into the auditorium, wearing matching t-shirts and carrying home-made signs. The fronts of their black shirts had a pink bomb on the front, with the word “queer” inside the bomb. The backs of the shirts proclaimed, “We do recruit.”

Once I was introduced, they began their political theater. College Fix editor, Jennifer Kabbany reported on National Review:

[A] crowd of students disrupted a talk on campus in support of traditional marriage with a rowdy protest that included loud chanting and crassly worded signs such as “anal is the most inclusive form of f*cking,” “there is a future in sodomy” and “God loves fags.” When the featured speaker—Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, a former Ivy League professor and founder and president of the pro-traditional marriage nonprofit Ruth Institute—left the stage and attempted to engage the protestors in conversation, they continued shouting in her face before they angrily filed out of the lecture hall, allowing the talk to finally proceed.

This is certainly a fair description of the first five minutes of the evening. Still, something is missing. Complaining about how bad the other guys are is a defensive position. We can’t win on defense. We must go on offense. Someone, sometime, has to put some points up on the scoreboard.

In other words, we need to tell more about our side of the story. Besides talking about the protesters and their message, let’s talk about the Anscombe Society, the Ruth Institute and our message. In addition to the students who protested and left, let’s give some time and attention to the students who listened, and stayed.

My message was that the Sexual Revolution has claimed many victims, whom are almost completely invisible in our society. Many Children of Divorce have been deeply harmed by the divorce and remarriage of their parents, often feeling like leftovers from previous relationships and strangers in their own homes. I pointed out that this is a structural injustice to children. No matter how kind and well-intentioned the adults may be, it is an injustice to separate a child from his or her parents without good reason.

Genderless marriage, a second structural injustice against children, will create genderless parenting. Children in these homes will have their rights violated in many of the same ways as stepchildren. Why are we doing this, I asked? Have we really considered the full implications of having the government claim that children don’t need, and aren’t entitled to relationships with their own parents?

Victory #2: I presented the idea that children have rights, and these structural injustices violate those civil rights.

The students who stayed for the talk engaged the issues. While they were not wearing helpfully color-coded t-shirts depicting their beliefs, their questions indicated that they were all over the map. Some were deeply committed to the redefinition of marriage. Others, even members of the Anscombe Society, had questions that they were struggling with.

The students who stayed in the room, deserve a lot of credit. Thanks to their willingness to engage the issues, their willingness to step outside of their comfort zones, thanks to all of them, our evening was a model of civil discourse.

During the question period, I had the perfect opportunity to tell them so. I said, “We often hear a lot of noise around these issues, but we don’t always hear all the arguments we need to make an informed judgment. Did tonight’s lecture make you think about things you’ve never thought of before?” Many of them nodded in agreement. I continued: “And we had a group of people who literally made noise, and walked out before any discussion at all.”

The students saw the point.

Victory #3: Students from across the ideological spectrum allowed themselves to be challenged, and engaged in serious discussion about important issues.

So instead of continually looking at the videos of obnoxious protestors, let’s take a moment to look at the smiling faces of these members and friends of the Anscombe Society, taken immediately after the event. They are justly proud of themselves. They are enjoying being together. They are looking forward to taking a positive stand in favor of children’s rights to know their parents. They are ready to learn, and share what they learn.

This event at UC Santa Barbara, “Same-Sex Marriage: Why Not?” was a big win for the cause of civil discourse on campus. It was a victory for the victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution. The upcoming Supreme Court decision will undoubtedly create more harm to more people. It is about time we acknowledged the victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution.

And claim our victories where we can.

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Jennifer Roback Morse is the founder and president of The Ruth Institute, a non-profit organization focused on keeping the family together, protecting the rights of children and helping the millions of people who have been harmed by family breakdown. She is the author, most recently, of The Sexual State.

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