Maggie Gallagher is the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. But that is only the beginning of the introduction. A longtime and courageous advocate, researcher, and laborer for marriage, she is a nationally syndicated columnist. She spoke with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about the marriage law Andrew Cuomo signed Friday night in Albany.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What’s your best explanation of what happened in New York on Friday night?
Maggie Gallagher: Governor Cuomo pushed hard for something he a) believed in and b) knew would help his national profile and political prospects. The Republican party inexplicably decided to help him, despite knowing its own base disapproved.
Lopez: How significant is it that a legislature did this?
Gallagher: That’s not actually new. New Hampshire and Vermont have both passed gay-marriage bills without a court order. And, of course, so did Maine, which the people were able to reverse in 2009 by referendum. What’s new is the Republican party deciding to facilitate the passage of gay marriage.
Think for a minute about the difference between the two parties. In state after state where Democrats control a legislative chamber (as in Iowa right now) they’ve simply refused to bring marriage amendments up for a vote — even though strong majorities would pass them and refer the question to the people.
Now, in states where Dems are the minority and have no control (like Wisconsin and Indiana) they’ve done extraordinary, extra-constitutional things like flee the state to try to prevent a vote.
All the GOP leadership or conference had to do was decide not to take up Cuomo’s bill.
We asked them to kill the bill, and instead conduct an advisory referendum. If the people of New York voted for gay marriage, that would have gotten them off the hook. Instead they voted to bring up a bill they knew would pass (even though most Republicans voted no, the key decision was to bring up Governor Cuomo’s bill).
Democrats are loyal to their core, New York’s Republican party abandoned theirs. And for what? So the New York Times can editorialize about how bad they are for passing minimal religious-liberty protections?
Lopez: Why did Republicans buy in? Is it bad education? A false sense of civil rights?
Gallagher: Four Republicans told voters during 2010 they opposed gay marriage, then voted for it. Why? Probably they believed the propaganda that voters don’t care about this any more. I think they are going to find that was a mistake.
Each of these guys has a different story. Grisanti, who beat Antoine Thompson (a black Democrat who voted for gay marriage) is in a district trending Democratic — and the incumbent lost in part because he voted for gay marriage. I think he’s going to be in a serious trouble. Alesi’s political career is probably over anyway.
Lopez: What needs to happen with marriage? Is it a fundamental thing? A federalist thing? A national thing?
Gallagher: We have to decide whether or not we are, as a culture and a nation, seriously committed to marriage not just as an expression of romantic love, but as a social institution necessary to the common good. That is, are we interested in making sure we have a next generation that is raised by their mothers and fathers — united, and committed to raising their children together?
As my husband says, “It’s not just about you and your feelings.”