Ken Connor
Carrie Prejean's show of support for traditional marriage in the Miss USA Pageant has provoked a firestorm of controversy.  Responding to judge Perez Hilton's politically charged question on whether other states should follow Vermont's lead in legalizing same-sex marriage, Prejean (Miss California) said that she was glad that Americans were able to choose, but that she was raised to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

That response cost Miss California the Miss USA crown.

Hilton—a gay rights advocate—reacted with rage.  In an online video, he called Prejean a "dumb b****" and said he would have "snatched that tiara off her head and run out the door" if she had won the crown.  He later stated that she should have "left her politics and her religion out because Miss USA represents all Americans."  No doubt, Miss Prejean would have been better off if she had invoked the "Fifth" and remained silent, rather than giving an honest answer to a politically-charged question.

Mr. Hilton's paroxysmal response to an honest answer to his question shows how difficult it is to have a thoughtful discussion about the subject of gay "marriage."  Homosexual activists have said for years that all they want is "tolerance," but it has become increasingly clear that mere tolerance is not enough.  They want their lifestyle to be endorsed by society and affirmed through civil law.  And—as Miss Prejean can attest—they are anything but tolerant of those who have opposing points of view.

Demonization, not discussion, appears to be the modus operandi of the homosexual activist movement. Miss California is only the most recent example of what happens to a public figure who has the temerity to resist the gay agenda.  Anita Bryant—another beauty queen—learned first hand the ugliness that results from taking a public stand against the gay agenda.  So did Dr. Laura.  Supporters of California's Proposition 8 are learning the same thing.  Those who disagree with the radical homosexual agenda are demonized by their opponents for their belief.  Advocates for traditional marriage are branded "intolerant," "discriminatory," or "homophobic."  Their viewpoints are dismissed out of hand and deemed to be rooted in bigotry and prejudice against gays.

Homosexual activists have tried for years to define themselves by their practices.  They argue that they are inherently gay and that their sexual impulses are dictated by their DNA.  Since they have no choice in their sexual orientation, they maintain that their practices and relationships should receive society's seal of approval. Essentially, they argue: "If I desire X, then I must be an X-ist by definition and, therefore, no one has the right to deprive me of my pursuit of X."  This argument does not withstand scrutiny.  Lots of people are beset with impulses that they find difficult, if not impossible, to control.  Pedophiles have overwhelming impulses to have sex with children, but that does not mean that we have to affirm their actions or legalize their behavior.  Many a husband has succumbed to a strong sexual attraction toward a woman other than his wife, but the "irresistible impulse" plea rarely works with the spouse.  Just ask John Edwards.  The conflation of identity with impulse could be used to justify all sorts of illegal, undesirable, or immoral actions and relationships.

There are a number of cultural and social issues implicated in the civil affirmation of homosexual relationships as a valid form of marriage, not the least of which is that marriage is inextricably connected with family and society.  From the beginning of time, men and women have come together in marriage and borne children as a result of their sexual union.  Through the family unit, they have raised their children, protected them, taught them, transmitted their values to them, and prepared them for life in society.  They have modeled gender roles and taught their children how to relate to members of their own sex as well as to the opposite sex.  Society and culture has been promulgated—and can only be perpetuated—through the unique sexual dimensions of this heterosexual relationship.

Is it in society's interest to jettison the historic heterosexual model for marriage and embrace a new paradigm that includes homosexual unions (and, inevitably, other kinds of unions that are fashioned by other kinds of sexual impulses)?  What are the implications for children of such unions?  Are moms and dads merely superfluous, or do men and women both provide important role models for children?  Will children suffer from gender confusion without heterosexual role models?  Will gender have meaning in the future?  Is gender identification important in preparing children to take their proper place in society?  How will society be reproduced?  Will we do it the old fashioned way or will we resort to brave new world technology?  How will we regulate such technology?  Will increased demand for such technology lead to designer children?  Will fathers play a role in the lives of their children or will men be reduced to the status of mere inseminators?  Will mothers become an anachronism?  Will we embrace a definition of marriage which makes it a simple contractual relationship between two independent adults who are "in love?"  If so, can the contract be amended?  Will the definition of marriage be further amended?

These and dozens of other important questions need to be asked and answered before declaring that the heterosexual model for marriage is obsolete.  Yet, if the Perez Hiltons of the world have their way, these questions won't be answered.  They won't even be allowed to be asked.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.