The Gay Rights Lobby

According to Lynn Wardle, a professor at Brigham Young University’s law school, sixty-nine law review writings in support of same-sex marriage were published between January 1990 and June 1995. During the same period, only one article appeared that fully defended the heterosexual nature of marriage, while two others criticized the constitutional arguments for same-sex marriage.

Sadly, a perusal of Wardle’s list reveals that Catholic law schools have published many of the articles in favor of same-sex marriage. The schools include Fordham, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Loyola (Los Angeles), Marquette, Seton Hall, Boston College, and the Catholic University of America.

This imbalance matters. Wardle explains that “the absence of balanced, complete and vigorous published debate is especially detrimental to the judiciary, for it is particularly dependent upon thorough academic discussion to function properly.” The sixty-nine articles are proof of a concerted effort to lobby the judiciary into accepting a rights-based argument for same-sex marriage.

Wardle draws a parallel to the successful efforts of the advocates of abortion-on-demand in the early 1970s; like their predecessors, the homosexual activists are “seeking to have the courts provide a shortcut to law reform that is not readily obtainable through the democratic processes.” In other words, the same-sex marriage issue would likely fail at the ballot box, so the activists have resorted to an appeal to the elites on the court and have ensured that when the judges go to their law libraries, only one point of view prevails.

Why are the law journals so one-sided? Wardle believes it is due to academia’s unwillingness to criticize homosexual preferences, because “tolerance of ‘gay rights’ is a litmus test for academic credibility” and “opposition to same-sex marriage is treated as proof of narrow-mindedness . . . or an unprofessional mixing of personal, moral, or religious preferences and law.” Consequently, few people are willing to write articles that criticize same-sex marriage. Editors and publication committees likely will reject them, and if published, the writer may be punished by his or her peers.

Unfortunately, this taboo has spilled over into the larger public square. In an interview for Crisis, Tom Pauken, Catholic and chairman of the Texas Republican Party, described the taboo as part of “the new McCarthyism of the left, which squelches people from expressing their opinions.” According to Pauken, the average Texan or American sees the same-sex marriage concept as “nonsense,” but the same elites who are pushing for its acceptance have also created and enforced the taboo.

One way in which homosexual activists enforce this taboo is by labeling their critics as intolerant. South Carolina’s Governor David M. Beasley recently discussed what happens when politicians act not on principle but out of fear of being viewed as intolerant. In a public statement supporting a legislative ban on same-sex marriages, Beasley said, “In many respects, America is in a moral meltdown today because its leaders, under pressure from special-interest groups, want always to appear ‘tolerant.’ While this is a good and admirable trait for political leaders, Iam convinced that we as a society have become so tolerant of any practice or lifestyle that we are losing touch with the basic moral consensus that guided this country’s path from its founding.”

Bait and Switch

As homosexual activists push for the legalization of same-sex marriages, they are resorting to a colossal bait-and-switch ploy. The bait? The notion that the only things the homosexual movement wants from marriage are a nice ceremony, hospital visitation rights, spousal health insurance benefits and inheritance rights, and society’s acceptance of the idea that those two nice men or women who live down the street are “married.”

This sounds fairly innocuous, especially if a person is swayed by Oprah-style stories of victimization or by pleas to “live and let live.” But that’s the idea behind the “bait,” to engage the listener into acceptance without his or her reading the fine print of the “switch.”

The “switch” reveals the real agenda behind the push for same-sex marriage—smash the notion of traditional marriage, give homosexual relations a preferred status in society, and wipe away any notions of sexual restraint. The proof of these aims can be found in the writings of the activists themselves. Michelangelo Signorile, in the May 1996 issue of Out, a homosexual magazine, describes same-sex marriage as “the final tool with which to dismantle all sodomy statutes, get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools, and, in short, usher in a sea change in how society views and treats us.” He also describes it as “a stellar opportunity to take on the religious right on its own turf—the landscape of the family.”

Will religious marriages somehow be protected from this attack? Not necessarily. Some denominations, such as the Unitarian-Universalist Church, already conduct same-sex “blessing” or “commitment” ceremonies; these would turn into marriage ceremonies if same-sex unions were legalized. Other churches or denominations likely would be pressured to follow the Unitarians’ example. Still others may be cowed by the threat of litigation.

The Reverend Louis P. Sheldon, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in America and head of the Traditional Values Coalition, stated for Crisis that “churches will find themselves being sued because the pastor refuses to perform a homosexual marriage; the suit will be one of discrimination.” Suits might arise from the fact that a church’s position against marrying homosexuals would be contrary to the state’s public policy. While Sheldon doubted that a court would ever force a church to perform a same-sex wedding, he noted “the threat of litigation would tie up staff resources and ministry time.” In spite of a church’s obvious First Amendment defense, Sheldon believes the threat of civil suits is quite real, given the high degree of litigiousness in America and the great utility of the threat itself.

The Growing Backlash

Although homosexual activists portray the same-sex marriage issue as part of social progress, the good news is that a quiet, yet powerful grassroots movement is growing to preserve traditional marriage against an adverse Hawaii decision. In Utah, Professor Wardle simply noticed that the marriage statute could be interpreted to allow same-sex marriages. As he told Crisis, he wrote a letter to his state legislator explaining how to fix the problem—and the legislature did so quickly. Certain evangelical Christian foundations, such as the National Legal Foundation of Virginia Beach, Virginia, have also provided model legislation for states seeking to fix the Hawaii problem.

Thirty states have legislative activities under way to address the threat to traditional marriage. Seven states (Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota, and Oklahoma) have passed laws that exempt them from having to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. At press time, Governors Sunquist of Tennessee and Beasely of South Carolina had pledged to sign similar legislation in their states. Beth Fortune, a spokeswoman for Sunquist, stated for Crisis that he views marriage between a man and a woman as the only way to view marriage and that his support of the legislation was part of his commitment to preserve traditional marriage.

In political arguments it must be made clear to the legislators that they cannot have it both ways—they cannot claim to support traditional marriage and simultaneously allow for its same-sex interpretation.

In a May 8 interview on CBS This Morning, Congresswoman Pat Schroeder was asked if (and if so, why) “the government should sanction homosexual marriage.” She never directly responded to the question, discussing instead how, in her opinion, the issue should be resolved at the state level. Perhaps one reason Mrs. Schroeder refused to answer the question was a desire to have it both ways—to appear to support traditional marriages (such as her own), while tacitly supporting same-sex unions.

President Clinton may share Mrs. Schroeder’s dilemma. On April 18, The Washington Times reported that Marsha Scott, the president’s liaison to homosexual activists, had told a homosexual group in Boston that “we [need] to find ways to ensure that those of you in these loving, long-term, and committed relationships can enjoy all the same benefits [heterosexual couples] are entitled to under the law.” She added that although using same-sex marriages might not be the right “vehicle” now, “I’m going to argue that we broaden the context and look at the rights that gays and lesbians have . . . and where those rights are denied.”

Presumably the president’s liaison believes that marriage is one of those denied rights. The Times reported that other Clinton administration officials attempted to back away from Miss Scott’s statements, stating that the president is “personally” opposed to same-sex marriages. What should be especially clear to Catholics is that President Clinton, ever the politician, is trying to have it both ways. In just this same way, he “personally opposed” late-term abortions, yet vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban. The pending federal legislation will force fence-sitters such as Clinton to take a stand on the issue.

Defense of Marriage Act

On the federal level, eight congressional members and one Senator introduced the Defense of Marriage Act (H.R. 3396 and S.B. 1740) on May 8. This bill, if enacted, would have a twofold purpose. It defines marriage, for the purpose of receiving federal spousal benefits, as the lawful union of one man and one woman. It also assists states in rejecting out-of-state same-sex marriages, while still complying with the Full Faith and Credit Clause. The Defense of Marriage Act would regulate the effect of Hawaii’s public acts of marriage on other states. Under the bill, states would also be free from a constitutional compulsion to acknowledge same-sex marriages.

Almost every year since 1973, the National Opinion Research Center has asked Americans if sexual relations between two adults of the same sex were “always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all.” In 1973, 70 percent of the respondents said “always wrong.” What is astounding is that two decades after the sexual revolution, 62 percent of the respondents still choose “always wrong.” Contrast this with the center’s findings concerning opinions on premarital sex: only 35 percent of respondents chose “always wrong” in 1973, and 26 percent in 1993.

In addition, a new Gallup poll shows that a large majority of Americans, 68 percent, do not agree that same-sex marriages “should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” Only 27 percent supported same-sex marriages, while large majorities of Democrats (61 percent), independents (63 percent), and Republicans (80 percent) opposed same-sex marriages.

Politicians may not always be swayed by moral arguments, but they do pay attention to public opinion. In addition, these polls may likely reflect deep-seated opinions that people are willing to express to an anonymous pollster, but not to their acquaintances or coworkers. Politicians are well aware that the ballot box is another highly effective and anonymous method of registering opinions. For pro-family activists, these polls provide a potent weapon with which to counter the highly vocal, insistent, and often intimidating demands of the homosexual lobby.

Defining Marriage Down

In a recent issue of The American Scholar, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan attributes America’s higher tolerance for violence and criminal acts to a “downward redefining that weakens societal standards,” or, in other words, “defining deviancy down.”

Americans are now faced with the specter of “defining marriage down.” In his article, Moynihan describes in detail the social ills unleashed by lower standards for personal behavior—from drug use to single motherhood. He remarks how these lower standards were initially supported by many elites, who were driven by a quest for personal freedom. However, he also points out, these people made many mistaken assumptions, for which American society is now paying the price.

And what will be the price of defining marriage down to the level of homosexuality? Will Americans again be fooled by certain elites with their siren song of social progress? Perhaps not. For with quiet resolve, Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons, and Jews are working together, one state at a time, one legislator at time, to preserve that oldest of institutions, founded by God himself in Eden—the union of one man and one woman.


  • Joanne Sadler

    At the time this article was published, Joanne Sadler wrote on political issues.

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