The President Comes Out
What now?


The president’s announcement is not surprising, but disappointing. It is big news because he has the largest bully pulpit in the world. But is it wise to use that pulpit to make a statement on such a divisive and hot-button issue on which the president is in direct conflict with the will of the American people? North Carolina just became the 32nd state — out of 32 that have voted in referenda — to protect marriage from radical redefinition. The voices of citizens from conservative, moderate, and liberal states have all been clear and consistent: Marriage is an important social institution that joins a man and woman. A complete human union.

The “equality/justice” talking point is a straw man that has unfortunately proved very persuasive among some. Who wants to oppose equality? But the African-American community is not taken in. They are one of the largest and strongest blocs opposing same-sex marriage. They’ve seen the deep collateral damage that family re-engineering has done in their community. They know from painful experience that marriage is not just a personal relationship with no impact on the community. 

It is not right or just to advance intentionally motherless or fatherless families, but that is exactly what same-sex marriage does to children. That is precisely what same-sex marriage does, and solely to satisfy the desire of a small population of adults. This is not a good call from our president.

— Glenn T. Stanton is the director of family-formation studies at Focus on the Family and the author of Secure Daughters, Confident Sons (Multnomah, 2011) and The Ring Makes All the Difference (Moody, 2011).


At one level, President Obama’s newly stated position on same-sex marriage is a trivial change. No one “in the know” ever believed that Obama really opposed same-sex marriage. His campaign position in 2008 was just a politically convenient pretense to bamboozle voters concerned about the terrible wreckage of a collapsed marriage culture.

Obama now says that he “personally” supports same-sex marriage, but (according to ABC News’ account of statements not yet made public) “he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.” If taken seriously, that latter proposition would necessarily imply Obama’s belief that the states’ traditional-marriage laws are constitutionally permissible. Alas, Obama cannot be taken seriously, for (as I have testified) the badly confused grounds on which he decided last year that his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act would compel him to conclude that traditional-marriage laws are unconstitutional.

At another level, though, Obama’s newfound position is ominous for the American future. The American experiment in self-government depends on a vibrant marriage culture that transforms the little barbarians who emerge from the womb into responsible and virtuous citizens. The traditional male-female nature of marriage reflects the elementary biological reality that only heterosexual intercourse naturally generates children. The institution of marriage exists to maximize the prospect that children will be born and raised in stable and enduring families by the fathers and mothers responsible for their existence.

Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would permanently reorient the institution of marriage away from this central mission. Indeed, proponents of same-sex marriage routinely dismiss as irrational the inherent link between marriage and responsible procreation and child-rearing.

Our marriage culture is on the verge of collapse — a collapse for which heterosexuals are largely responsible — with all the social pathologies associated with rising out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families. On marriage as on so many other matters, President Obama has failed to recognize what is needed to sustain the American experiment.

— Ed Whelan is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.