Family Research Council

Marching for Marriage


I’ve been going to pro-life marches since 1981, so I’m getting used to the drill. Still, this week’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. promised to be different in many ways. It was slated to coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act and on California’s Proposition 8. The media says Prop 8 was designed to “ban” homosexuals from marrying. It was designed for no such thing. As was the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8 was designed to protect an institution that is under attack.

The media puts us in the anti position. That’s typical. We’re said to be anti-abortion when we say we are pro-life. We have this odd notion that the child in the womb should not be killed. If we came out against hanging, I guess the media would call us anti-gravity.

I arrived early on the Mall for the March, so I ducked into the great red Smithsonian Castle for a cup of coffee. It was only $3.47. I sat down at a table to savor this monumental brew when an attractive blonde lady asked if she might join me. She had to charge her cell phone. Sure, I replied, and asked if she might be here for the March for Marriage.

“Oh, that,” she said, rather dismissively and told me she had come to Washington from California for a conference this week. Happily, our conversation did not descend into a nasty spat. “I don’t know what I think about that issue,” she said, “but I know what my son thinks. He’s a journalism major at San Francisco State. Wants to be a combat journalist.”

Then she mentioned she had not been to Washington in five years and wanted to know what was new. Instead of belaboring my case for marriage, I decided to take another tack, I told her about the new Lincoln Cottage and the new Mount Vernon Museum and Visitors Center. That led to a nice chat about George and Martha Washington. I told her of Mary Weiss, a historical interpreter at Mount Vernon. She does “Lady Washington” and offers the best understanding we are likely to have of that amazing woman. That amazing wife.

I confessed that I wish I had studied the relationship between George and Martha Washington more earlier. What an incredible partnership their marriage was. I spoke of how Lady Washington risked death visiting the army camp every winter. Valley Forge and other winter quarters had many diseases, including smallpox. George had survived the deadly disease as a teenager visiting Barbados, so he had an immunity. Did she?

Without being too obvious about it, I made the case that the United States might very well not exist were it not for the great marriage of George and Martha Washington. We had been for two centuries a monarchical people.

Independence was more than Declarations and more than battles, it was also a state of mind. And having George and Martha Washington to take the place of King George III and Queen Charlotte was essential to our making that critical break.

We parted, Mrs. California and I, on pleasant terms. And we avoided any combat for her son to report.

Onto the Mall. I saw many old friends from the March for Life. But I saw so many new friends. It was amazing to see how many black, Hispanic, and Asian folks had come out for this one.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz harangued the crowd estimated at 5-8,000. Sen. Diaz is from New York. He spoke in Spanish. He crowed: “I’m black. I’m Hispanic. I’m against abortion. I’m against this homosexual stuff. And I’m a Democrat.” He added that he wins by 89% in his state senatorial district.

FRC’s Cathy Ruse put her case for marriage in more positive terms. She argued for true marriage by emphasizing the protection of children. So did Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall. Jennifer cited the 11-year old girl who testified for marriage in St. Paul, Minnesota.

We watched on the jumbotron as this precocious pre-teenager described her love and her gratitude toward her mother and then her father. Pointedly, she asked the state lawmakers in the Capitol: “Which one do I not need?” She asked the suddenly close-mouthed solons again: “Which one do I not need?”

Right. They had no answer. Moving through the crowd, I encountered a group of people from a Korean-American Church in Flushing, Queens. Four hundred of these faithful Christians had ridden all night on a bus to attend this march. Four hundred!

The GOP bigwigs are forever wailing about “outreach.” Every time they lose an election—which they seem to do effortlessly—they conduct “autopsies” on themselves, in public. Don’t try this at home. The party suits assure us they want to be more inclusive.

My advice to them is simple: Try going to church some Sunday morning. You’ll find you don’t need outreach. You could try inreach. In my pew, we have blacks, Hispanics and Asians. We exchange the handshake of peace every week. But I don’t see them as ethnic groups. They’re my friends. They’re my fellow worshipers.

Those faithful folks from that church in Flushing probably haven’t seen an ad for a Republican since Reagan in 1984. Reagan embraced these good people. The GOP bigs ignore them.

That’s why we say pro-life and pro-marriage are bridge issues, not wedge issues. They are the way for conservatives to talk to minority Americans—soon to be the majority.

Some on the left know that liberals are phonies on this issue. David Weigel of Slate, writes:

In his memoir, Democratic consultant Bob Shrum remembers John Kerry fretting that the Massachusetts Supreme Court had forced Democrats to talk about gay marriage before they were ready to. "Why couldn't they just wait a year?" he asked Shrum, mournfully. The second camp consists of people who really do oppose the idea of gay people getting married. Republicans argued that this second camp was tiny, and that liberals were hiding behind it. They were right!

When we see dozens of Democrats abandoning their previously held positions and a few Republicans also willing to betray the voters who put them in office, it would be easy to become cynical about everyone in politics.

But we have to stand firm and push back. Marriage is a blessing to families. Three-quarters of the teen rapists in our prisons are fatherless young men, so are two-thirds of the teen murderers. Even gay martyr Matthew Shepherd was killed by two fatherless young men. Marriage bashes no one. Marriage benefits everyone.

We know that the marriage issue helped re-elect George W. Bush in 2004. I attended his historic speech in Pittsburgh the day before that re-election. I heard him give a strong endorsement for the pro-life and pro-marriage positions. I say his speech that day was historic. Re-elected the next day, we never heard another word from President Bush on life or marriage.

The Republican consultants and their party power brokers welcomed our votes. They never thought they’d have to actually stand up for what they assured us they believed.

We are seeing a great sorting out. We saw that early in the country’s life, too. Thomas Paine wrote about the sunshine soldiers and the summer patriots who cut and run when there was fighting to do.

These are the times that try men’s souls. Women’s, too. But it’s for our children and our grandchildren that we stand fast. On earth, there’s no better cause.