Gay activists argue that those of us who oppose unisex marriage (the majority of Americans) are hate-mongers and bigots, like segregationists in the old South. One reporter at the press conference asked, "How can you engage in such a hateful attack on gays and lesbians?" The ACLU declared the amendment "the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb. It will wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples."
Of course, the Federal Marriage Amendment does no such thing. Legislatures or private corporations would still be free to extend benefits to unmarried couples or others if they chose (a fact creating opposition to the FMA among some right-wing religious groups). The only thing this carefully drawn, measured, centrist amendment would do is forbid judges from mistaking our 5,000-year-old shared understanding of marriage as the union of male and female for a violation of human rights of people who choose alternate arrangements.
The need for such an amendment became dramatically clear in the aftermath of the New York Court of Appeals' recent, extraordinary, tyrannical decision that Yeshiva University, a private, religious institution, cannot reserve its married student housing for married students without violating New York City's ban on discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation."
Is this tolerance? Is this live and let live? Or is this effort to use the courts to impose gay marriage a systematic, brutal, mean-spirited attempt by powerful elites to stigmatize and silence the majority of Americans and endanger our most basic institution? Let the debate begin.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.