Maggie Gallagher is heading up a new effort to protect and defend those whose livelihoods are threatened by their speaking up in defense of traditional marriage: the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance. She chats about the problem it seeks to address, as well as the state of the marriage debate:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Who is Frank Turek and why should every American care to know him?
MAGGIE GALLAGHER: Frank Turek is a man whose contract was terminated by a major corporation when human resources found out he had written a book opposing same-sex marriage. He is on the front lines of an emerging trend we are hearing about: people losing jobs or other economic opportunities because they have written, spoken, donated, or otherwise peacefully exercised their core civil rights on behalf of marriage as the union of husband and wife.
For many years Frank Turek has done seminars for Cisco, among many other companies. A student who attended his class Googled his name, found out he opposed same-sex marriage and said “I’m going to get Frank fired because he doesn’t represent Cisco values.” And this student succeeded.
A few weeks later Frank Turek was told by a Bank of America executive that his book opposing gay marriage meant he would not be asked to do a seminar again at Bank of America.
Frank’s story is told the first of a series of videos NOM’s new Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance is releasing, to show the face of the people who’s jobs, property, economic livelihood, or good name have been threatened by those who believe only one side is worthy of respect in the gay marriage debate.
LOPEZ: What exactly is the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance? And how much of a need is there for it anyway? How many Tureks could there be out there?
GALLAGHER: Marriage ADA’s goal is an America where people on all sides of the gay marriage debate feel free to participate peacefully in the democratic process without fear of threats, harassment, or retaliation. I know that Frank is not the only one, because I’m getting e-mails from others who’ve faced similar threats. The goal of too many gay marriage advocates is to isolate, intimidate, and silence Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife, because children need their mom and dad. Marriage ADA is a response to these tactics of branding civil, thoughtful participation in democracy as hatred and bigotry.
I hope, by creating community, to inspire more Americans to stand up for their rights to preach, teach, and live the idea that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife. There are too many of us to stigmatize if we stand together.
LOPEZ: Is this fight about marriage or conscience or religious liberty?
GALLAGHER: Religious liberty or conscience protection is a broad umbrella term that covers many important things. The core belief behind MarriageADA.com is that it is absurd that any American should be afraid to speak, to donate, to organize, or otherwise peacefully exercise core civil rights on behalf of an idea as good — as commonsense — as that, to make a marriage, you need a husband and a wife.
LOPEZ: Could there ever be a scenario where same-sex marriage is legal but religious liberty is firmly protected?#more#
GALLAGHER: In some alternate universe maybe, where “marriage equality” was not the express goal of gay-marriage advocates. Gay marriage is a movement that is dedicated to the idea there is no difference between same-sex and opposite-sex unions and if you see a difference, there is something wrong with you — you are like a bigot opposed to interracial marriage and should be treated the same way in the public square and by government. This is not a secret, it is the main message of the gay-marriage movement. This is what they believe. The nameless Cisco workers who got Frank Turek fired was only acting on the message the Human Rights Campaign is giving out every day: only bigots and haters and discriminators thing marriage is the union of male and female. Increasingly this movement, its adherents, are acting on this presumption.
That’s why they are willing to put religious adoption agencies out of the business of helping abused and neglected children in Illinois. If these adoption agencies refused to place kids with black parents or interracial parents, we wouldn’t give them a religious liberty exemption, why should we tolerate hatred and discrimination?
They say this because they believe it. The question is: do we? Or will we stand up for the rights of decent, loving, law-abiding Americans who disagree with same-sex marriage?
LOPEZ: Town clerks have problems — I’m thinking of Rose Marie Belforti in New York right now. But you can name more. What are they to do in states where same-sex marriage is legal? Does the Marriage Anti-Defamation League have a role here?
GALLAGHER: We will be releasing personal interviews with three New York marriage clerks on Oct. 6. I think when you actually see the videos, look these people in the face, it really changes things. Who is served by kicking them out of their jobs, when the small number of same-sex couples could easily be referred to a different clerk? Even worse, what do we make of major public officials like the Nassau County DA threatening them with criminal prosecution, if they try to step aside? The marriage clerks are the canaries in the coal mine, because it would be so easy to avoid this conflict, to give protection to conscience, and no same-sex couples would be hurt. The refusal of the gay marriage movement to help them is a sign that they are serious about marginalizing, stigmatizing, and repressing “anti-equality” views in the public square.
LOPEZ: So you just stepped down as chairman of the board at the National Organization for Marriage. How has NOM’s existence changed things in the marriage debate?
GALLAGHER: NOM is one of a small group of social-conservative organizations that is genuinely primarily politically engaged. We don’t go on TV and talk like we are in politics, we raise money and direct NOM’s crack political team’s talent to winning political victories — like in NY-9, where Democrat David Weprin paid a price for his vote for same-sex marriage in New York (as you’ve written), or in NY-22, where Dede Scozzafava learned its a really bad idea to be for gay marriage if you are a Republican.
We also directed $500,000 to reminding Iowa voters the three judges up for reelection voted for same-sex marriage — and for the first time Iowa voters kicked them out of office, we helped elect a GOP legislature in New Hampshire (which will vote in January on repealing same-sex marriage) and a GOP legislature in Minnesota (which referred a marriage amendment to the people of Minnesota). We played major roles in getting Prop 8 on the ballot in California, and repealing gay marriage in Maine, as well as blocking gay marriage in Maryland and Rhode Island.
I like to say at NOM, we fight gay marriage — and win! Repeatedly over and over again, victories the pundits said were impossible. We’ve proved the idea the American people are on board with gay marriage is a lie. And we’ve done it with very little help from even the conservative political and media establishment, which has been largely (thank you, National Review!) shut down on this issue.
It’s a really extraordinary record of achievement for an organization that is just four years old.
LOPEZ: You’re working on a Debating Same-Sex Marriage book with an advocate of same-sex marriage, John Corvino. Why would you do that? Isn’t there quite enough debate as is? Or is the quality all wrong?
GALLAGHER: John asked me to be his debating partners for a book for Oxford University Press. How could I say no? It’s going to be a really interesting book I think, not the same-old, but a real advance of the debate. If I can ever finish it! One of the reasons I decided to step aside as chairman of NOM.
LOPEZ: How do you debate same-sex marriage without being a mean person who wants to deny rights to others? Or who is otherwise overly concerns with someone else’s sex life? Why does the male-female aspect of marriage matter so much?
GALLAGHER: The only way to stand against the tide of hatred that is directed as you for saying “Marriage matters because children need a mom and a dad” is to reach down and stand on the truth, and the goodness of that truth.
Gay marriage is founded on a lie about human nature, and it cannot stand in the long run. It takes too much energy to persuade people of the lie that is “marriage equality” that same-sex unions are not different than unions of husband and wife.
What keeps me going is that it’s just too the silly to take seriously the world being created for us, where we should be afraid to say these basic truths about human beings, sex, and the family, for fear of being labeled hateful or bigoted.
Without our consent they cannot win.