Brian Brown is disappointed but not remotely surprised by today’s marriage ruling in the Northern District Court of California. I directed some questions to Brown, who serves as executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, in the wake of the Prop 8 ruling:
Q: Is this ruling what you expected?
A: We are not surprised. Judge Walker has made this a circus trial, and has repeatedly shown his personal bias. I think everyone who watched this case closely expected him to rule in this way.
Q: What’s next for marriage in California?
A: This will go to the Supreme Court, where we expect to win. Remember that originally, the gay legal establishment opposed this case, because they fear what we anticipate: that they don’t yet have five votes for a constitutional right to gay marriage. Two lawyers with very big egos (Olson and Boies) pushed this case over more sober heads, and I think in the end gay-marriage advocates will regret that they did. If the Supreme Court fails to act to protect our right to vote for marriage, Congress will have to step in with some kind of amendment.
Q: What’s next for marriage, period?
A: Let me promise you one thing: This is going to light a fire for November among voters who care about marriage. In just three years, NOM has grown from nothing to 35,000 donors, 700,000 activists, and (last year) a budget of $9 million. We are going to raise a lot of money and attract a lot of activists, and we are going to use them to make a difference this November.
Q: Tell me about this bus tour you’re on. Why did you come up with the idea in the first place?
A: Gay-marriage advocates have a well-organized grassroots movement they’ve built over the years. Conservatives tend to rely on spontaneous mass uprising. I think HRC’s model is more effective — after all, it’s allowed a tiny fraction of Americans to have an outsize influence all disproportionate to their actual numbers. Social conservatives need to learn (as I think the pro-life movement has learned) that we need to organize politically to make a difference. We wanted to make sure that the majority of Americans who support marriage as the union of husband and wife are not drowned out by a loud minority, or by a biased media. Even the conservative media (with certain key exceptions — thank you, NRO!) does not cover this issue well. This bus tour is our first step in bypassing the media, becoming culture creators ourselves, and getting our message out to our supporters.
Q: Were you surprised by some of the hostility you’ve encountered?
A: The wave of hostility in Providence was shocking to all of us who were there.
We expected protests, and we respect their right to rally and make their views known. We did not expect activists to storm the podium, attempt to drown out speakers, and threaten young children — while the police stood by and did nothing. We understand that followers can get out of hand, but this was a coordinated effort, and that is shown by the fact that afterward, no gay-marriage leaders in Rhode Island or elsewhere repudiated these tactics.
The leadership makes a big difference. We’ve had many rallies where we had great turnout, and opponents respected the boundaries of civil debate. But the media has turned a blind eye to their excesses, refusing often to cover the reality of what happened, and gay-marriage leaders have not stepped in to support the lines of decency and civility.
In fact, established gay-marriage leaders — Equality California, Freedom to Marry — are pushing a lie they know to be false: that NOM has tacitly condoned threats against gay people. They are willing to lie and terrify their own supporters in order to raise money. It’s a shame. Even more shameful, the official Democratic party in New Hampshire has joined in the lie, issuing a press release containing this “murder slur” against NOM and folks in New Hampshire who oppose gay marriage. It’s an amazing thing to see one of the two parties co-opted by its radical base in such a blatant way.
Q: Is a hot-button political campaign a place for children anyway?
A: Many of our core supporters, like me, have children. I’m bringing my wife and six kids on this tour, because it’s their future we are fighting for. Marriage supporters are law-abiding people who expect to be able to exercise their democratic rights peacefully and civilly — not to be afraid to take children to the steps of the Capitol or a public park.
As the one young mother put it during our Albany stop: “They want us to back down, but we are not going to back down. We are going to stand for our families.”
Q: What is your upcoming March on Washington all about?
A: Our 23-city “summer for marriage” bus is going to culminate in a rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, demanding that Congress and the Supreme Court uphold our right to vote for marriage. In the imaginary Constitution in Judge Walker’s head, gay marriage is a constitutional right. In the real Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers, we have a core civil right to participate in democracy to demand that our government respect marriage. We are going to fight for that right and we are going to win.
Q: Some would ask (and I’m sure they do): Isn’t that an insult to Martin Luther King Jr.? Isn’t the movement for same-sex marriage all about equality? And equality isn’t the side you’re on?
A: On the contrary, as Bishop Harry Jackson said in his statement in response to Judge Walker’s ruling, what is insulting is to imagine that Christians and other marriage supporters are like racists. People who lived through the real Jim Crow can tell you that the comparison between Prop 8 and racial bigotry is grotesquely inappropriate. You know what real equality is? One man with one woman, that’s equality.
Marriage deserves its unique status because unions of husband and wife really are unique — and uniquely necessary. A civilization that wants to survive over the long haul cannot dedicate itself and its core founding documents to repudiating human nature, and what all human societies need to survive. To make a marriage you need a husband and wife, because children need a mom and a dad. People like Judge Walker who can find some analogy between this idea and racism are living in an alternate universe that will not and cannot withstand the test of time and history.
Q: What do you most wish people knew about the whole Prop 8 fight?
A: Gay marriage has consequences. The goal of this movement is to use the law to reshape the culture so that disagreement with their views on sex and marriage gets stigmatized and repressed like bigotry. Children will be taught, whether parents like it or not, that traditional faith communities’ views on marriage are based on hatred and bigotry. In the new America they are attempting to build, core civil rights will be sacrificed for imaginary ones that will then be used to exclude most religious people and institutions from the public square. We are already seeing the beginnings of this great purge in the academy, and it will march from there through professional licensing and institutions in ways that will affect a great many people.
Q: What do you most wish your opponents on the marriage issue would hear you out on?
A: Gay-marriage advocates need to stop dehumanizing their opponents, who are, after all, the majority of Americans. They need to accept the truth that the majority of Americans who think marriage is a union of husband and wife are not motivated by irrational hatred and bigotry, but a love for the truth about marriage. We are seeing bad behavior from followers, because the leaders of this movement are consistently pushing a message that delegitimizes opposition, wrongly equates support for marriage with hatred and bigotry, and encourage ordinary pro-gay-marriage activists to act as if only one side has the right to be heard. That’s what we are seeing in too many places across America today.