Last week’s public relations “Victim of the Week” award should go to Carrie Prejean. Her ordeal has gone both viral and global. Made to feel like a twelve-year-old during the Miss California competition, she has now been vilified or immortalized by the press and cable news industry. Whether you believe she should have won the pageant or not, the caustic remarks of Hilton Perez about Prejean on his video blog were obviously uncalled for. Hilton’s statements mark the beginning of a new era of gay marriage activist boldness. To add insult to injury Keith Lewis, co-director of the Miss California USA and who runs the Miss California competition, attempted to moralize about the “right to marry.” I found it ironic that a man who runs a competition that parades women around in scanty clothing could attempt to speak out about gender prejudice and stereotypes.
Both Perez and Lewis believe that their opinions would not be challenged. They were wrong. In fact, they overplayed their hands this time. Their remarks were just like the intimidation I faced as a child from bullies in the schoolyard. In my experience, the only way to make bullies be quiet is to stand up to them. Just one brave person on the playground can stand down the school bully and break free from their tyranny. In our adult world, however, we need the strength of numbers. When one person stands alone, he can feel overwhelmed. In contrast, when thousands of people stand up for what they believe, they become a force to be reckoned with.
Gay marriage is not an inevitability in our nation. It can still be halted and turned around. The institution of marriage can be protected, but we need the collective voice. Let me remind you that marriage is worth fighting for. Those of us in the biblical marriage movement are not fighting because we dislike gays. We are fighting for marriage because we realize that whoever’s values shape this law will shape the practices of the next few generations.
The institution of marriage is unique in our society. It is the one institution that binds women and men together to form a family that serves incredibly important societal purposes. There is little doubt that the best environment for raising children – something that is essential for the very continuation of society – is to be raised by a loving mother and father who are married to each other. The marriage commitment goes beyond the two adults involved, and affects the children, and society as a whole, deeply. The marriage is also a commitment to society that these two adults will take responsibility for raising their children conscientiously so that they become productive citizens. Children thrive in households where their parents are married to each other. Even the Iowa Supreme Court, which legalized same-sex marriage in that state, acknowledged the scientific data pointing to traditional marriage as the ideal relationship for raising children.
Advocates of same-sex marriage want people to think that it can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage. The claim is that allowing gays to marry will have no impact on traditional marriage. But it will have profound impacts. It will create a conflict between people of faith who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law, which says marriage includes those of the same sex variety. Those conflicts will always be resolved in favor of same-sex marriage because there can be no “conscientious objectors” to the law.
What are some of those conflicts?
You can teach your children at home that marriage is between a man and a woman, but your child’s school will teach them that marriage includes same-sex couples. Both are equal marriages under the law.
You can teach your kids that there are important spiritual and societal reasons to believe in traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage. But your kids will be told that gay marriage is a civil rights issue and that those who oppose it are akin to the racists of history who opposed interracial marriage and supported slavery.
You can believe in traditional marriage, but if you are in a regulated profession – like a counselor, physician, attorney or accountant -- and act in concert with your beliefs you can lose your professional license and your livelihood.
You can be against same-sex marriage, but if you provide services to the wedding industry, you can be sued or fined for refusing to be part of a same-sex wedding.
You can be a religious charity faithfully fulfilling your mission by serving your community, such as providing adoption services, but if you refuse to provide those services to a same-sex couple, you have the choice of abandoning your beliefs or ending your mission.
You can be a church that teaches the faithful in your fold that same-sex marriage is not appropriate, but if you are too active you’ll have people demanding that your tax exemption be revoked.
The conflicts that legalizing gay marriage will create for all of society are not hypothetical. They have already happened and will become increasingly frequent as gay activists continue to push their marriage agenda forward. The message to people of faith is that the teachings we have come to hold dear and thousands of years of history must take a back seat to political correctness and the influence of gay activists.
Preserving marriage as we have known it is a battle worth fighting, and we intend to do just that.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.