In his interview with World magazine, which will appear in print later this month, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly pronounces doom for social conservatives in the gay-marriage debate. Despite strong victories where defense-of-marriage amendments and legislation have been proposed – even in liberal states like California, Delaware and Illinois – Daly believes “We’ve probably lost that.” That’s one thing Daly and I can agree on, but for vastly different reasons.
Jim Daly observes that among young people, “65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage” and that based on demographics conservatives won’t win them back. As a young person, I can attest to the truth of these statistics even within conservative Christian circles. Homosexual marriage is an issue about which many of my friends are happy to adopt a live and let live mentality. Where did they get that idea? In part, from Focus on the Family.
Rewind to 1992’s Colorado campaign on Amendment 2, designed to ban homosexuals from receiving special rights based on their sexual orientation. It was then that Dr. James Dobson and the vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family, Tom Minnery, adopted the unwise but politically opportunistic pro-Amendment 2 campaign slogan “Equal rights, not special rights.” If homosexuals are entitled to “equal rights,” then why should homosexual couples be prohibited from marrying? Focus on the Family lost the gay-marriage debate in 1992 when they broke with 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian history and sided with Hillary, Hollywood and the humanists by legitimizing homosexual behavior.
Incidentally, that victory was short-lived. It was overturned in Romer v. Evans (1996) with the help of a prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer who specialized in oral arguments before the Supreme Court. Less than a decade later, Dr. Dobson actually supported that attorney’s bid to become the nation’s next chief justice. In 2005, John Roberts was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Most recently, Focus on the Family announced that they wouldn’t oppose a homosexual nominated to the Supreme Court over sexual orientation. A spokesperson for the organization commented in 2009 that the nominee’s sexual orientation “should never come up” because “it’s not even pertinent to the equation.” Not even relevant to know if an individual appointed for life to the highest court in the nation has a traditional view of the family, or is a self-avowed homosexual? Where did that come from? Certainly America’s Founding Fathers would be shocked, since they followed lock-step with Christian Western tradition that criminalized homosexuality.
Today’s conservative Christian leaders believe what was scandalous just 30 years ago: that homosexuality should be legal. Back in the Dark Ages, way back in 1986 when the Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law, Christian leaders actually believed that homosexual behavior should be criminal. Their beliefs have changed rather quickly with the culture, preferring to garner social acceptance through a moral fluidity that reminds me of Groucho Marx’s quip: “If you don’t like my principles, I have others.”
Despite victories for traditional marriage in states across the Union, social conservatives are losing because they’ve missed the heart of the issue. Same-sex marriage is a diversion. The real battle is over the morality of homosexuality itself.
Josh Craddock, 19, is a communications coach and author at the Institute for Cultural Communicators and studies politics at The King’s College in New York City.