Maggie Gallagher
Sen. Ted Kennedy certainly let us know what he really thinks of Americans who support the Marriage Protection Amendment, defining marriage as the union of husband and wife: "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple." According to Minority Leader Harry Reid, even suggesting the Constitution should protect marriage as the union of husband and wife constitutes something like hate speech: "For me, it is clear the reason for this debate is to divide our society, to pit one against another," Reid said. "This is another one of the president's efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract and to confuse America."

Gay marriage activists published even more vitriolic denunciations. My personal favorite came from Paula Ettelbrick, the NYU law professor who heads something called the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, a U.S.-based organization. She called the Marriage Protection Amendment "an unquestioned violation of international treaties" and a "clear violation of international human rights."

I was in the room on Monday when President Bush made his remarks in support of a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. I applauded with the rest of the crowd when he said: "Every American deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect and dignity. On an issue of this great significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep. And all of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another."

I certainly believe that. But I have to wonder, do advocates for gay marriage also believe it? Will no one turn to Ted Kennedy and say, "Sir, have you no decency?" The six in 10 Americans who oppose gay marriage (and the majority who in the latest Gallup poll support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage) do not deserve to be denounced as bigots by their own elected officials.

Maggie Gallagher

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.