The kid in the audience -- he seems a kid to me, just 20 years old -- asks me a question:
"You say gay marriage will lead to the use of the law to repress traditional faiths including Christianity. But I was raised in a Southern Baptist family. When I came out, I lost my sister. What is wrong with the idea that religions will be pressured to be less anti-gay?"
I have my speech tonight. I can explain why every human culture across millennia has recognized marriage as the union of male and female. These unions are unique. They create life and connect children to their mother and father. When I point this out, typically half the audience gets it. The other half stares blankly: How will gay marriage change anything? Why do you care?
I am in Boulder, Colo., invited to debate the impressive Jonathan Rauch. But I don't really want to debate; I don't want to score points. I want something rare and precious. I want to achieve disagreement -- to understand one another better.
This is the opposite of what legal eagles Ted Olson and Davis Boies are doing in the Proposition 8 trial, naturally. They are seeking to win -- to void the votes of 7 million Californians and overturn Prop 8, making gay marriage the law of the land in all 50 states. The stakes are high. And the argument they will be asking the Supreme Court to endorse is this: Only bigotry, hatred and unreason explains why anyone cares about the idea that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife -- religious views of marriage are just anti-gay bigotry.
Can we do better than that?
I hunger, as so many of us do, for some way to connect across our differences.
So the question from this gay kid -- this clean-cut collegian who I'll call "Phil" -- hits me like a ton of bricks. What can I say to Phil? I just pointed out the ways that "marriage equality" will lead to the repression of traditional religious faiths by government. And here he is asking me: Why is that a bad thing?
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.