Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Stream on June 19, 2015.
If same-sex marriage comes to America, it will not be because Americans asked for it.
In the last 15 years the question was put to the people in nearly every state of the union. Even in liberal states like California, even on ballots in purely democratic primaries, the people voted overwhelmingly to keep the definition of marriage unchanged.
Gay activists were confident going into many of these contests because the polls promised them big wins. Yet when people stepped into the ballot box, man-woman marriage won. Polls are one thing. Polling places are another.
We live in an age where the wrong opinion on same-sex marriage can cost you your job or your business. Where the wrong answer to a reporter’s hypothetical question can bring death threats. It’s a wonder anyone would tell a stranger on the phone what his views are on marriage.
But in the privacy of the voting booth, you are free from the bullies — free to consider what marriage means. And what children really need.
The People Voted
When historians write about the politics of marriage during the first American decade of the twenty-first century, here is what they will write:
That Nebraskans always considered marriage to be the union of one man and one woman but in the year 2000 they voted overwhelmingly to make that definition the official law of their state. And in 2004 Arkansans made man-woman marriage the official law of their state. And Georgians did too. And Kentuckians.
That Michiganders voted to protect the man-woman definition of marriage within their borders. As did North Dakotans, within theirs. And Oklahomans. And Ohioans. And Utahns. And Louisianans within theirs.
That in 2005 Texans voted to keep marriage in the Lone Star State a man-woman institution. As did Coloradans in their state in 2006. And Idahoans in theirs. And South Carolinians. And South Dakotans. And Tennesseans.
That in 2008 Floridians made man-woman marriage the official law of the Sunshine State. And Arizonans made it the law of the Grand Canyon State. And Californians made it the law of the Golden State.
They will write that in 2009 Mainers made man-woman marriage the official law of their land. And in 2012 North Carolinians made it the law of theirs.
Historians with an ounce of integrity will report that by this year 50 million Americans had stepped into voting booths from coast to coast and cast votes to keep the definition of marriage unchanged.
The Courts Pronounced
And then they will write that in 2013 a federal judge struck down the law that Utahns had passed to keep marriage a man-woman institution.
And in 2014 a judge struck down the law passed by the people of Oklahoma. And another struck down the law passed by the people of Virginia. Another, by the people of Texas. Another, by the people of Michigan.
They will write that a handful of federal judges struck down the laws passed by the people of Ohio, of Arkansas, of Idaho. And another handful struck down the laws voted in by the people of Oregon, of Pennsylvania, of Wisconsin, of Colorado and of Florida.
But this is folly. We know that historians will not write it this way.
Instead they will speak of a “shift in American attitudes.” They will use phrases like “tidal wave” and “sea change.” They will ruminate on how rapidly Americans embraced the new paradigm.
But of course this is an illusion. All that can really be said is that a handful of liberal judges embraced it. And then imposed it on the rest of us.
Even now — even after their votes have been nullified by judges coast to coast, after they have been scorned and mocked by the media, after death threats and twitter swarms — most Americans believe that marriage should be a man-woman institution.
The Family Research Council poll from February shows that 53% of us still hold this view. People in their 20s go the other way (37-60%) but ask your average 35-year old and he’ll agree. As will your average 40-, 50-, and 60-year old. 57% of African-Americans agree. And 61% of all Americans believe the people and the states should decide, not the Supreme Court.
How many Americans think the Christian baker should be able to say no to same-sex marriage? 81%.
The other side wants us to think America is against preserving man-woman marriage and that the world is against us, too. And certainly it feels that way. But that is an illusion.
They do not want us to count the countries that have voted in same-sex marriage because there are so few — just 18, even with Ireland. Out of 193 UN member states. Out of 220 countries worldwide. And only one country on the planet has same-sex marriage by way of court order (Brazil).
They do not want us to notice that Eastern Europeans are changing their national constitutions to protect the man-woman definition of marriage. One after another after another. Or to remember that 1.5 million Spaniards took to the streets of Madrid in protest of same-sex marriage — the equivalent of 10 million Americans marching on Washington.
Or to see the multiple, massive protests in France. Over a million Frenchmen and women crowding the streets of Paris to fight against a change in the definition of marriage.
Those of us who believe in man-woman marriage should not buy the illusion. No matter what another five judges do in June, the people are with us. And we will write the next chapter in the history of marriage in America.