Are you a bigot?

Maggie Gallagher

3/3/2004 12:00:00 AM - Maggie Gallagher
The latest complaint about President Bush: By endorsing a federal marriage amendment, he is "writing discrimination into the Constitution." Rosie O'Donnell called the president's words "vile" and "hateful."

Maybe she's so angry because she knows she is on the losing side of history. CBS News recently asked: "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow marriage ONLY between a man and a woman?" In December, the American public split 55 percent to 40 percent in favor. By last week, 59 percent of Americans favored an federal marriage amendment, and just 35 percent opposed it.

The more Americans hear about same-sex marriage, the less they like it.

And it's not just Republicans or conservatives: 55 percent of Democrats support a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Perhaps Americans increasingly realize that only a national definition of marriage will end the current lawless circus, with elected officials flouting the law and judges busily rewriting it. (The mayor of Nyack, N.Y., just announced that, in his jurisdiction, same-sex marriages will be recognized; the mayor of New York City is being pressured to do so.)

Absent a constitutional amendment, marriage will end up a political football, tossed about by judges like those in Massachusetts: four people so arrogant, ignorant and mean-spirited they can't think of a single reason why keeping the normal definition of marriage matters. Judges and politicians like that imply that the 60 percent of black Americans and 60 percent of white Americans in a November Pew poll who say they oppose gay marriage must be motivated by "animus."

Translation? You're a bigot.

Take a moment and listen: Same-sex marriage advocates are saying there is no difference between two men being intimate and a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising children. They are saying that the opposite idea, that mothers and fathers both matter, is a form of hate, ignorance, animus, bias. That's why they claim that the normal definition of marriage is "discrimination."

Do you need more evidence that accepting same-sex marriage is not a small add-on to our marriage laws but a radical transformation of them? If preferring husbands and wives who can become mothers and fathers together is "bias" or "discrimination," then people like me who hold such views are bigots. In the America that Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) dreams of, the idea that children deserve mothers and fathers will become the legal and moral equivalent of racism. Their logic leads not to live-and-let-live tolerance, but to an ugly culture war, using the law to root out public expression of such "prejudices." Public school curriculums will be changed to teach the new social norms to your kids (they are already being developed). Tax-exempt status for faith-based organizations that fail to adhere to the new religion will be at risk.

What about laws against interracial marriage? Racist marriage laws had nothing to do with the great, historic, cross-cultural purposes of marriage. They were about keeping the races separate so that one race could oppress the other. By contrast, it is simply ludicrous to imagine that marriage was dreamed up in order to express animus toward anyone. Today, one-third of babies are born outside of marriage and end up fatherless; the deep, ongoing need for an institution that points men and women to the only kind of sexual union that protects both them and their children could not be clearer.

Imposing unisex marriage laws is not like striking down bans on interracial marriage. San Francisco is not Selma. A constitutional amendment is not a national crisis.

Our founding fathers deliberately designed the process to be difficult, so that only the most worthy proposals could pass muster.

Marriage is increasingly looking like one of those rare issues: not a wedge that divides, but a cause that unites Americans.