The Future of Marriage: Why “The Inevitable” Isn’t

Election Day was a drubbing for marriage. The ballot initiatives to protect marriage lost by over 4% in Maine, Minnesota, Washington State, and Maryland. Those who support same-sex “marriage” reportedly spent over $33 million, while those who defend marriage spent just over $10 million.

Many friends have said that same-sex marriage is inevitable. It is not. I have confidence that fence-sitters will enter the fray in support of traditional marriage. As we continue to debate this issue, three important forces can shift the outcome in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consider first, public opinion; second, the methods and the message of LGBT activists; and third, reality.

Public Opinion Gives Marriage a Fighting Chance

The American public offers differing levels of assent to same-sex marriage, depending on how the survey questions are worded. Psychologically, it matters how questions are asked.

Consider these facts:

1. Data from the New Family Structures Study (NFSS) shows 24% of the young-adult population on the fence, saying they’re “not sure” when asked whether “it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America.” There’s more support than antagonism, but not a majority on either side, given the nearly one-quarter who remain on the sidelines.

2. A national post-election survey conducted on Election Day by The Polling Company, Inc., showed that 60% of American voters agree that “marriage is between one man and one woman,” while only 34% disagree. Another poll two months earlier showed that 57% were in agreement.

3. After their Election Day victories, same-sex marriage advocates stated that they will continue to prioritize expanding the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages through legislatures and the courts, not through public vote. This is a continuation of their past policy that avoided putting the issue up for a direct citizen vote (the ballot initiatives in Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota were initiated by supporters of traditional marriage; only Maine was their choice to repeal our side’s ballot measure of 2009). This indicates their lack of confidence in their ability to get enough votes.

4. Six New York state senators were ousted from office after they abandoned their constituents to vote in favor of same-sex marriage. Five of those senators lost their re-election bids this year, in large part due to their change of position on marriage; the sixth retired rather than face re-election.

5. “Third Day,” a Democratic organization’s own survey revealed that on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the most in favor, 26% labeled themselves 9 – 10 in favor of same-sex marriage, compared to 30% who said they were 0 -1; 44% were somewhere in the middle. Only 32% said they would be glad if same-sex couples could marry; 37% said that would not be acceptable.

Despite large sums spent–as happened this November when gay activists spent a whopping $33 million–the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman continues to hold sway; and, no matter how hard activists try, it seems impossible to strip it away from the human heart of a very substantial portion of people. It is the reality of common sense deeply embedded in the human heart. 

Methods and Message

Efforts by the LGBT movement to make school curricula more sympathetic to the gay agenda continue to raise concerns among parents. So much so that leaders of the LGBT movement have had to adjust. In the November 7 article in Slate, titled “How Marriage Finally Won at the Polls,” Nathaniel Frank explains how the coalition of LGBT activists working to pass gay marriage in Maine and Maryland revised their message strategy to counter the “Princess” ad prepared by Frank Schubert. Here is what Nathaniel Frank writes:

Thalia Zepatos of Freedom To Marry, who oversees the coalition’s messaging research, describes another revelation from the data. Schubert’s misleading “princess” ads implied that schools could usurp the role of parents in teaching pro-gay values, but that was wrong. As Zepatos and her team pored over the research, they watched conversations in which voters spoke among themselves and kept circling back to the same insight: Parents are the parents, and they teach their kids values at home. The challenge, Zepatos and her colleagues determined, was to reassure voters about this conclusion. Parents knew they had the control, but the Schubert ads–which in the past have killed a pro-gay lead in the polls at the last minute–made them anxious about losing it.

LGBT activists have had to go out of their way to reassure parents they are in charge of teaching values to their children, given the powerful evidence provided by Schubert, and experienced by many parents.

A 2011 Research Report issued by the Democratic think tank Third Way, and used to develop the 2012 campaign to win the state ballot initiatives, stated among its six key findings that: “It is crucial to include reaffirmation of religious liberty protections as a significant part of supporters’ message framework.” And as the public is aware, it is increasingly being proclaimed by politicians working to pass gay marriage that religious liberty protections are being provided.

But this is misleading. As Jane Robbins and Emmett McGroarty show in their Public Discourse article “Mandating Our Religious Freedom,” the current Progressive movement, of which LGBT activists are a core constituency, is clearly moving in the opposite direction. And in a more recent Public Discourse article “A War on Religion?” Bruce Hausknecht provides examples contrary to the message LGBT leaders are now using to win.

Reality: Distinguishing What Is Myth from What Is True

The Left now has the White House (for four more years), in addition to the universities, Hollywood, large portions of the media, and high-tech industry.

But can this reliance on the power of the elite institutions be sustained in the long run? Perhaps, if the majority of the people come to accept that to flourish one is to be allowed to do whatever one wants regarding sexual practices. I submit that the majority of people do not grasp that this is the message of the LGBT movement, and as they do grasp it, they will shift to the view that our sexuality has boundaries and is ordained toward something greater than whatever we want.

Don’t take it from me; take it from Dan Savage as quoted by Mark Oppenheimer’s New York Times article, “Married with Infidelities“:

Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.

Social science research shows us, and a growing body of journalistic reporting reveals, that gay men are not interested in permanent monogamous relationships. Lesbians are more apt to be monogamous, but less apt to remain together long-term. One myth that LGBT activists push is that marriage is what most homosexual people want. Will the provision of marriage cause gay and lesbian Americans to enter lasting and stable relationships en masse? Unlikely. Another myth that the activists push is the “no differences” thesis: the claim that there are no differences in outcomes for children parented by heterosexual couples or homosexual couples.

The sonogram helped people see the unborn child in the womb and realize it is alive; it made a powerful case for life. Similarly, we have to expose the myths of the gay marriage movement. Several events of 2012 have brought us closer to that goal.

First, in a peer-reviewed research paper published in the prestigious journalSocial Science Research, titled “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting,” Professor Loren Marks of Louisiana State University’s School of Human Ecology reviews the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 American Psychological Association brief that supported the “no differences” thesis. Marks concludes:

To restate, not one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children. The available data, which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way. Such a statement would not be grounded in science.

Second, Mark Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study (NFSS) uses the second-largest nationally representative sample (ever) to measure a host of outcomes in which the adult children of intact biological families fare better than any other combination, including children raised by a mother or a father who has been in a gay or a lesbian relationship. Its results also show something striking and unexpected: only two out of 15,000 young Americans screened for the survey reported spending their entire childhood with two lesbian parents; none reported the same with two gay fathers. Children, of course, don’t fare as well when there is a lack of stability in the home.

Third, scores of people who read the Regnerus study were inspired to reveal even more about the gay subculture; and, yes, by their accounts, the Regnerus study depicts reality far better than shows like Modern Family and The New Normal. Surprised? Most of these people will remain nameless, rather than submit themselves to unwanted hostility. But expect more of them to step up as witnesses to the lies that undergird the movement for same-sex marriage. See, for example, Robert Lopez’s Public Discourse essay “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View.”

Fourth, legal cases are mounting against the discrimination, harassment, and loss of jobs for people who do not support same-sex marriage. A new growth industry is the pro bono legal associations to protect freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and more recently the newly created Freedom of Conscience Fund. It is very laudable that trained professionals are stepping up to defend civil liberties; one may hope this will continue to awaken the conscience of the public.

Ultimately, the future of marriage will not be decided by our likes or our dislikes. Human suffering will periodically remind us that losing a healthy marriage culture produces all kinds of practical costs and penalties. These are measured by those social pathologies that impose a great weight on our society, such as depression, addiction, violence, and illness, as well as missed educational and economic opportunities. However you slice it, the intact biological family continues to be the best “Department of Health, Education and Welfare” when it comes to raising the next generation. Marriage is worth fighting for, even if we lose. Because remember, LGBT activists will lose too as they bring us all down. And that is a sobering thought.

This article is reprinted with kind permission from Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Goodan online publication of the Witherspoon Institute that seeks to enhance the public understanding of the moral foundations of free societies by making the scholarship of the fellows and affiliated scholars of the Institute available and accessible to a general audience. 


Luis Tellez is President of The Witherspoon Institute.

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  • John

    The core problem is with Catholics. If Catholics voted the way the church taught we would not have to read this article. If Catholics elected to Congress voted consistent with their belief system we would not have to read this article. If Catholics on the Supreme Court read the constitution and voted in a similar manner we would not have to read this article. Our problems are internal to the church and the beliefs of its members that is worth time talent and money should be focused which is most appropriate to evangelizing from within. Sadly our people get misled worshiping the false gods of government and media etc. Rather than the church of Christ.

  • chaco

    From a more intuitive, rather than a reasoned/ logical approach, I feel as though people are just tired of fighting; If they challenge another’s choices, it automatically calls their own choices into question. Such weariness from bickerring reminds me of a Papal quote; “People sin more from lack of will than from lack of understanding.” To avoid the sloth of not wanting to defend Truth, I think of using my car without checking the vital fluids. I don’t always FEEL like following “The Manufacturer’s” recommendations, but I know that if I don’t, damage will occur. If we don’t excercise our “Reasons for choices Muscle” it will atrophy (see 2 Tim. 4: 3-4).

  • Doughlas

    Election day was hardly a “drubbing” for marriage. Just two days ago in Washington State, 800 gay and lesbian couples received marriage licenses. One of the couples had been together for 44 years, and they were VERY happy to finally get married.

    There are now more marriages, folks! It’s good news!

    I think you do a grave injustice to the marriage equality movement by characterizing it as favoring libertinism. (“…one is to be allowed to do whatever one wants regarding sexual practices.”) This is simply untrue. Some LGBTs may favor infidelity in marriage, but so, apparently, do many, many heterosexuals. This is not justification for denying marriage rights to people who do favor monogamy.

    Furthermore, your statement that “gay men are not interested in permanent monogamous relationships” is a generalization. Again, some aren’t, and some are. There is no justification for denying marriage rights to gays and lesbians who do favor monogamy, any more than there is justification for denying adoption rights to Christians because some of them abuse their children.

    I notice that your claim about the lack of interest in permanent monogamous relationships applied only to gay men. What about lesbians, who are by far and away the most monogamous of all combinations. Should heterosexuals not be allowed to marry because they are not nearly as monogamous as lesbians?

    The “no differences” claim regarding child outcomes is no myth. In July 2010, Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published the results of a U.S. national longitudinal study measuring the psychological adjustment of 17-year-old adolescents raised by lesbian couples. These adolescents were rated “significantly higher” in social and academic competence and “significantly lower” in problem behavior than their counterparts in a standard normative sample of American youth (known as the “Achenbach” sample). The means by which these children came into their families (e.g., adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate fathers) made no difference in the results. Nor did it matter whether the lesbian parents were still together or separated during the study.

    The Regnerus study that has been so touted by opponents of marriage equality was described by the auditor hired by the study’s own publisher as “bulls–t.” I’ll go into that at another time. What you’ve written about it is highly misleading.

    But it wouldn’t matter. What if it were found that Norwegian-Americans make better parents than Swedish-Americans? Would that mean the Swedish-Americans shouldn’t adopt? What if African-Americans families were shown, on average, to be less stable? Does that mean that individual African-American couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt? Or that breeding by African-Americans should be discouraged? The state with the lowest divorce rate is Massachusetts, and the one with the highest is Arkansas. Should individual Arkansan couples be denied adoption rights because their state’s divorce rate is high?

    This is the problem with judging individuals by the “average” behaviors of their cohorts. It leads to all kinds of grotesque policy-making.

    And back to lesbians, who are on average the most stable and monogamous of all the possible pairings–should they receive priority for adoptions?

  • Ernest

    There is no evidence for the author’s assertion that gay men are not interested in monogamous relations. How could he possibly know such a thing? Generalizations that begin with phrases like “African-Americans are…” or “Women are…” are almost always sure to be wrong.

    Try this: “Straight men are not interested in monogamy.” True or false? Without a qualifier like “some” or “most,” it is a false assertion, because it presumes to apply to all straight men.

    The author’s premise about gay men is false and weakens her entire article. There is no evidence that gay men are any more promiscuous than straight men. Since in most states they are unable to marry, it seems plausible that they ARE more promiscuous, and it that is the case, then the sure way to reduce levels of promiscuity is to legalize gay marriage and encourage commitment. Isn’t this just a no-brainer?