I don't like to call the movement to allow homosexuals to marry "gay marriage". There is nothing really happy about the whole homosexual scene. So many stories of people who have lived in the whole "community" and the people who left homosexuality share that there is nothing really gay about the gay lifestyle.
And so, I talk about "false marriage." since it's a flagrant violation of natural law and natural right to say that two people of the same sex can form a covenant akin to marriage itself. It's just not possible. The physical, mental, emotional, and certainly spiritual dynamics relating to the marriage covenant belong only to one man and one woman.
At any rate. here's an extensive report about Sasha Isenberg in The New Yorker, in which he reports on how false marriage went from a fantastic and offensive idea to a sad reality in the United States:
In his new book, “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage,” the journalist Sasha Issenberg chronicles one of our country’s most recent civil-rights battles, tracing the evolution of the cause from 1990, when it started to become a political movement, to its ratification by the Supreme Court, in 2015. Issenberg’s subjects are the activists, politicians, and judicial figures who, intentionally or not, found themselves at its forefront. That gay marriage would become legal after only a twenty-five-year fight, Issenberg writes, “was beyond the wildest hopes of gay-rights activists just years before.” The book attempts to explain why this campaign succeeded so quickly and how religious conservatives inadvertently furthered a cause they passionately opposed.
Conservatives need to learn how this happened, and then take every step to reverse this terrible course.
I think, generally, when people think of the struggle for gay marriage, they often think about the relative speed with which it was accomplished compared with other struggles in American history. Do you think that can be replicated in other movements?
I think there are certainly some structural, tactical decisions that same-sex-marriage supporters made that helped lead them to victory. And that, broadly, there are lessons that other campaigners or social movements can adopt. But the idea that there’s a kind of off-the-shelf manual for twenty-five years of social change. . . .
One important thing is there’s an organization called Freedom to Marry, which was a single-issue campaign organization with one goal: equal marriage rights across fifty states and the District of Columbia. And, up until this point, the major players in L.G.B.T. politics, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a lot of state-level organizations, have a really broad panoply of issues that they are invested in. They represent a coalition that is fairly broad, basically sexual minorities, and have a whole lot of issues that they’re working on: they’re trying to stop hate crimes, they’re trying to get recognition for families, they’re trying to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military, a whole bunch of things. It’s been a recurring trope among gay-rights activists that the Human Rights Campaign, the most wealthy and prominent of the gay-rights groups, is too focussed on the inside game, too focussed on winning access, raising money. Some activists believe that the gay-rights movement as a whole did not fight strongly enough against the Defense of Marriage Act or against the federal marriage amendment because the Human Rights Campaign wasn’t ready to fight and that this was evidence of their accommodationist sort of approach to politics.
One organization focused on one goal: to make false marriage a reality in the United States. Too many conservatives want to focus on all kinds of issues at once, and they become ineffective.
It’s clear that the H.R.C. was always acting, I think, quite rationally, in that they had had a broad set of issues that they cared about, and they intended to use influence in Washington institutions to get it. And they had to weigh the merits of fighting over marriage with the merits of trying to get progress on other issues. When Freedom to Marry comes along, they don’t have to make those compromises. And so they are able to develop a strategy that’s not based on trade-offs between “If we push for marriage in this state, will it step back our efforts to get a nondiscrimination ordinance passed?” And Freedom to Marry said, “We’re going to put ourselves out of business after we meet our goal,” which they did after the Supreme Court ruled in 2015. And that is not the way that most interest groups are set up. They’re set up basically to perpetuate themselves. And that means that they are having to weigh not just their policy objectives, but their donors and their members and their long-term stability.
And I think it raises a lot of questions. Where would gun laws be if, instead of having these broad gun-control organizations, a group is focussed solely on background checks?
The other issue with the gun control lobby, however, is that the right to self-preservation is so endemic to human beings, and the very culture and character of the United States was founded in large part on the right to self defense. When the British started attacking the American colonists in New England, they went after their guns. The farmers with guns on the fields of Lexington and Concord help
Probably the same place, but your point may still be correct.
Yeah. But I think that the natural physics of interest-group politics and coalitions is to make them bigger. And if you really are focussed on one discrete policy objective, the bigness and broadness of those groups can be self-defeating.
Exactly. Smaller interests tend to wield disproportionate political power, and more effectively, too.
Well, this also goes to your earlier point, that the religious right did the cause of gay rights a favor by making it more about one specific thing.
Yeah. They helped set up the terms of a debate, and then, later, gay-rights activists with big donors built an infrastructure that could fight the conflict on those terms.
We were talking about backlash earlier, and you mention near the end of the book that a backlash to gay marriage hasn’t really happened in the way one often expects. How do you understand that?
I think there are a few elements here. One is that anti-gay activists were not surprised when the Obergefell decision came down in 2015. It looked almost fated, based on the court’s earlier ruling and the way that it had handled appeals to circuit-court decisions. So I don’t think that there was the emotional letdown on the day of the decision that would’ve galvanized some opposition. And, because of that, many of those activists had already begun to move to an area where they still had strength, where the public opinion looked a lot more like it did around gay marriage twenty years ago—which is trans issues. And so they basically said, “We have lost the gay-marriage fight, but we have this nearby place where we can manufacture conflict from a position of strength.” And many of the same institutions that had been fighting over gay marriage all of a sudden just started fighting over issues related to transgender people.
The bigger issue, which this interview does not pay attention to, is that pro-family activists refused to discuss more grounded realities regarding the dangers of false marriage. In fact, they did not even start the fight properly with the right rhetoric. They should have been calling the push for gay marriage what it really is: false marriage.
Then they should have focused on science, biology, genetic arguments. They needed to point out that every society cannot survive, let alone thrive, without the nuclear family, without natural marriage. Sadly, pro-family activists and their lawyers relied on arguments of tradition, religious sentiment, and religious liberty. These arguements cannot be persuasive in the face of the emotionally demanding "non-discrimination" arguments.
That was going to be my next question—to what degree is it a coincidence that trans issues have become more prominent in the past five years?
There was all this capacity that had been built. I mean, part of the story of how we ended up fighting about gay marriage in the nineteen-nineties is that the gay-rights movement and the religious right grew up more or less in parallel in the late seventies and became professionalized and well funded through the eighties. By the nineties, the gay-rights movement was a central part of the Democratic-left coalition, and the religious right was a central player in Republican politics. And they had developed capacity for conflict. They were basically on a collision course. And the only question was: What were they going to fight over? And this popped up on the radar as the thing that they started to fight over.
I think what happened twenty years later, around the time of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, was that these coalitions were bigger and stronger in many respects, more entrenched, and still needed something to fight over. Religious conservatives had lost their position of strength for a variety of reasons—opinion change, demographic changes. And then they decided that they were going to go to trans issues instead.
The real change was not demographics, but rather the growing indoctrination in the public schools and the public square. The media promoted TV sitcoms and "out" celebrities, all of whom gave off this false veneer that they were "born that way", and that normalizing their lifestyle was not going to cause anyone else harm.
The other part of it is the cosmology of religious conservatives shifted with the defeat over same-sex marriage, where they may have ceded the broader culture wars. There’s a reason Jerry Falwell called his organization the Moral Majority. The kind of motivating conceit of religious-conservative activism through the eighties and nineties, and much of the two-thousands, was based on the idea that there’s a Judeo-Christian majority in the country and the laws of the United States should reflect its values. And losing the conflict over gay marriage, I think, persuaded many of those religious conservatives that they were not, in fact, the majority—that now you don’t have to watch more than ten minutes of Fox News to understand that the cosmology of the current American right is that they are a besieged minority, under siege by the courts, and academia, and Hollywood. And, once they began to think of themselves as a besieged minority, they started doing what besieged minorities do in our constitutional system, which is to ask the courts for protection. And that takes the form of these religious-liberty exemptions, which is basically an acknowledgment of the concession of defeat in the broader struggle.
The Moral Majority cannot win a political or cultural majority based on statements, speechs, conventions, and conferences. The intellectual and legal activism essential to preserving a culture was not prominent among religious conservatives for the last twenty years. In fact, for decades conservatives have avoided court battles, have avoided taking over key institutions of the culture, hoping that by reducing the government and pressing "live and let live" as a cultural policy, everything would work out just fine.
Clearly, that is not what has happened.
You wrote an op-ed last weekend in the Times which was headlined “Cancel Culture Works: We Wouldn’t Have Marriage Equality Without It.” For the book, you went back and looked at the different ways that gay-rights organizations and gay-rights activists shamed, shunned, and boycotted opponents of same-sex marriage. Do you feel that you’re seeing some of the same tactics that are today labelled “cancel culture,” or do you feel like those activists avoided what critics of cancel culture find so damaging today?
This is a bigger part of the reason why false marriage took over the country. Again, referring to my previous reflection above, the homosexual lobby fought the culture war in the fields of public opinion, including academia and the general media. They worked hard to shame and shun anyone who spoke out in favor of natural marriage and against false marriage. These Stalinist tactics have barely abated in the last five years since false marriage was imposed on the country via a corrupted Supreme Court decision.
Yeah. Well, I’m glad we’re not going to have a conversation about what cancel culture means or doesn’t, because I actually don’t really know. I think that one of the big changes that take place in the marriage debate is how the money dynamic shifts in the years between 2008, when gay-marriage supporters suffered this massive setback when Proposition 8 passed in California, and four years later, in 2012, the first time they sweep four ballot measures. One of the big things is the extent to which the pro-gay-marriage side of the debate opened up a major financial advantage over opponents. You had a cluster of exceedingly wealthy gay donors, mostly gay white men who had made their money through tech or inherited it, who in the two-thousands had become uniquely interested in marriage among all the issues on the agenda. By 2012, Mike Bloomberg was giving major contributions. Jeff Bezos was giving major contributions. You had a whole lot of Wall Street donors, including Republicans, who were giving generously as well.
Notice that Big Business got behind the false marriage movement big time! Conservative donors did not want to get their hands dirty in that fight. I would go one step further and submit that conservative donors have been more interested in making money than in perserving the culture. As Dinesh D'Souza pointed out in his book "Letters to a Young Conservative," conservatives care about the economy. Liberals care about power. The fight to force false marriage on the country was a powergrab of the first order, and the Left understood this dynamic very well.
The other thing that’s happening is big donors basically abandon the other side of the fight: by 2012, it’s clear that the folks running the effort to ban same-sex marriage are just having trouble going to their normal donors, including archdioceses. There’s something about being associated with this issue that people don’t want to deal with, in terms of media scrutiny and acceptance among their peers in the business world. I think so often this cancel-culture conversation is played out over the propriety of it, or the place of these tactics in a liberal democracy, and here’s this really important recent case study that shows it actually works. Scaring away propositions’ financial backers through shame is something that can have a dramatic effect on the trajectory of a particular political debate, and the Internet has made it much easier for individuals to launch and organize these types of attacks.
Supporters of false marriage relied on shame, degradation, and all-out war against anyone who disagreed with their perversion. Conservatives simply refused to understand the nature of the tactics which LGBT militants would use to push their destructive, hateful agenda.
Too many people were caught up in the lie that they are "born that way," and therefore it is cruel to discriminate against them. Furthermore, I submit that there was too little research at the time on the necessary reasons for children to have a mother and a father. Much of the reason for the paucity of research, however, is due to the fact that academies, universities, and research facilities have suppressed inquiry into these issues. Intellectual activism has included cancelling, suppressing, stopping any investigation into the long-term damage of undermining natural marriage in any community.
Conservatives, pro-family activists have ample opportunity to push back. What is needed is not just political change, but cultural and intellectual activism of a new sort to push back. Conservatives cannot abandon the public square and public institutions because they do not want to engage with destructive, hateful, anti-family, and anti-American liberals. They need to get into the fray, get into the fight, and win.