I woke this morning in Elgin, Ill., and pointed the nose of the rental car toward Madison, Wis.
My leg of the National Organization for Marriage's 23-city "Summer for Marriage" bus tour began last Friday in Columbus, Ohio, and ended at noon on Tuesday with a rally on the statehouse steps in Madison.
Earlier this month, in Providence, R.I., several hundred very angry and very morally self-confident protesters stormed the podium, trying to shout down NOM president Brian Brown, and failing in that endeavor, satisfied themselves with hurling insults and threats at small children.
One pro-gay marriage advocate said: "You better watch that kid or I'm going to kidnap him." Of course, he didn't mean it, right?
We've taken to showing the video to cops in other tour stops in advance, just to make sure they know what could happen. In Columbus, our folks were a little concerned, but the cops reassured us: "Nothing like that is going to happen here."
Sure enough, when one young firebrand urged the crowd to storm NOM's podium in Columbus, the cops made it clear that was a very poor idea.
Why do you need cops to enforce basic norms of civility? Should it really require courage to say that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife?
There's a certain ritual quality to this exercise of American democracy, on both sides. We trod on well-worn paths our forefathers laid out, amplified by new technology. The Providence outrages may cut down on the number that physically show up for marriage, but they also helped dramatically swell the crowds joining NOM's new virtual bus tour at www.marriagetour2010.com. For the first time, we brought our own videographer along, making us far less dependent on the mainstream media to get our message out to our folks.
Similarly, pro-gay marriage folks spend $35,000 to hire a camera to follow us around, as if we were some big-time political campaign. Kind of flattering, really, if a little silly.
Looking across the square in Columbus toward the counter-protesters, I saw a group of young people full of passionate zeal that flamed into fierce, hot anger at those who dare to disagree with them. "Hate is not a family value," they shouted. And from the podium, I agreed.
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.