The Corner

A Case of Civil Rights

As the lawyers wind up their final arguments, and we wait for the trial judge to issue his decision in California’s gay-marriage case, a key civil-rights issue is at stake. Gay-marriage advocates are now asking federal courts to invalidate Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. They are asking federal courts to invent a fundamental right to gay marriage. If they succeed, gay marriage will become law, not only in California but in every state in the United States.

Gay-marriage advocates are wrong in what they are asking the federal courts to do. But they are right about one thing: The case is indeed about a fundamental civil right — but not the one they are asserting. It is about the right to vote to protect marriage.

Marriage is not an abstract issue. It is the way we teach the next generation that children need a mother and a father. When I look at my own six children, I wonder what will happen to them, and to the values their mother and I teach, in a world where federal courts are asked to reject our views of marriage, where lawyers like Ted Olson insist that our views of marriage are bigoted, hateful, irrational. California’s Prop 8 is, for me, deeply personal. I am one of the people who devoted time, treasure, and sacrifice to make Prop 8 come true. I am a native Californian, and my wife and I and our kids moved back to California in 2008 for a full year to work to protect marriage. We understood that if the California state supreme court were allowed to overturn marriage, the whole country would be affected.

And so we fought, with decency and civility, in love, for the future of marriage in our country. We fought using the rights that are guaranteed to us under the California state constitution and the Constitution of the United States. We organized, we advocated, we raised money, and together with 7 million Californians we voted to protect marriage as one man and one woman.

Against all odds, we won.

Many, many Californians sacrificed to make this dream come true. People I know have had their homes, their livelihoods, their businesses attacked because they fought for marriage. These are the people Ted Olson says don’t count.

Having lost at the ballot box, gay-marriage advocates are now stepping forward and asking the courts to nullify our victory, to invalidate our sacrifice.

The Prop 8 case is a test of civility, reason, and respect for constitutional limits.

– Brian Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage.



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