Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the LGBT movement remains on offense. And on key cultural issues, many Republicans seem far less interesting in continuing the fight than their adversaries on the left.
A leading expert on cultural and family issues says it is time for conservatives to engage in the debates that are engulfing U.S. culture and threatening liberty, but she said the battle must be approached intelligently.
Last month, President Trump’s ban on transgenders serving in the U.S. military was met by fierce protest from Democrats, LGBT activists and a surprising number of Republican lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as well as multiple House members. Hardly any GOP members offered strong support for Trump’s move, with most Republican lawmakers remaining silent.
Then a new Reuters poll showed 58 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing transgenders to serve, including 32 percent of self-identified Republicans.
In yet another survey, this one from Gallup, a record high 17 percent of Americans say they find polygamy morally acceptable, and libertarian arguments are emerging that maybe the government has no business prohibiting polygamy since marriage isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution.
So is the political right engaging in a quiet surrender on some core cultural issues?
“Surrender suggests there was ever a fight,” said Ruth Institute Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse. “On the political front at least, there has never been a real, sustained effort to push back in a sustained and logical and forthright manner against some of the truly irrational things that have been coming at us from the sexual revolution.”
“It’s not surrender so much … but just a refusal to show up to the battle in the first place. The Republicans would much rather talk about taxes and things like that than to go and talk about the cultural issues,” Morse said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Jennifer Roback Morse:
She said the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is crammed full of cultural issues, including the debate over taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, but the GOP usually defaults to economics alone in advancing its arguments.
“Those are a huge part of the Obamacare issue,” Morse said. “So to pretend that we can avoid that and just talk about economics or just talk about foreign policy or something like that, that’s just putting your head in the sand.”
When GOP lawmakers join Democrats in alleging discrimination or bigotry in Trump’s ban on transgender military service, Morse said they not only buy into the liberal talking points but prove they don’t see the real goal behind the liberal push on LGBT issues.
“To try to make everybody go along with the idea that you’ve just changed a person’s sex is a huge power grab,” Morse said. “Republicans and conservatives generally, I don’t think, have recognized how big of a power grab it is and how much it’s really expanding the power of the state.”
For those on the right with some inclination to defend traditional values, Morse said two more problems tend to keep them silent in these debates.
“Number one, people don’t know how to respond to these issues. And number two, they’re afraid,” Morse said. “There are a lot of fear tactics that have been used by the cultural left, not just transgenders. Transgenders have just perfected the art form.”
She said the strategies used by the left have been standard since the dawn of the sexual revolution.
“The art form has been developed and cultivated over the years, starting with feminism,” Morse said. “You know, a man’s not allowed to have any opinion on a whole range of topics or else he’ll be called a male, chauvinist pig and basically silenced. That process of silencing people over cultural issues has been going on a long time.”
Another intense source of pressure is a one-sided advocacy coming from all sectors of popular culture.
“If you have two sides of an issue and one side you hear every day, steadily, steadily. You hear it on the radio. You hear it on TV. You hear it on the news. You see it in sitcoms. You see it in movies. You see it on billboards. You see it everywhere, and the other side, you hear nothing,” Morse said.
“No matter what the substance of the issue is, eventually the side promoting itself constantly is the side that’s going to win. That’s why institutions like the Ruth Institute and other pro-family organizations need to be getting their message out.”
Another element in the silence on the right is embarrassment. Morse said most conservative people feel awkward talking about sex in public. She said folks on the right must get over that.
“That gives the radicals a huge advantage because they’re not embarrassed at all,” Morse said. “They’re not shy at all. You can’t shut them up. They’re talking about it all the time.
“Every time you cringe and turn your face away, your opponents are moving forward. You’re giving them an opening. We must equip ourselves to deal with these issues in a logical way, in a non-panicked way.”
Morse said social conservatives need to engage now because each win for the cultural liberals creates a push for another assault on traditional values, just as the legalization of same-sex marriage instantly triggered an intensification of the transgender movement.
“We’re trying to create a whole world where the sex of the body and the gender of the body and our physicality is somehow ruled out and written out of law,” she said. “And since nobody’s ever confronted it, the crazier it gets, the more confused people are.”
But when it comes to engaging the culture, especially young adults, Morse said cultural conservatives cannot just dive into the debate in today’s headlines but need to extol the unparalleled value of marriage between one man and one woman for life.
“If we start from that perspective, we will at least have some credibility with the millennials,” she said. “If you just drive right in and say gay people shouldn’t have kids and transgenders shouldn’t serve in the military and never acknowledge the 40 or 50 years of suffering that divorce has caused, you have no credibility at all.”
Morse said that’s why the Ruth Institute is leading the way in addressing this root issue through its Healing Family Breakdown Spiritual Workshop. She said even though the sexual revolution has gone far down the road from the explosion of divorce, that is where the battle must be waged.
“You want to talk about silent surrender, we surrendered on the divorce issue a long time ago,” Morse said. “We’ve got to go back and fight that battle. We’ve go to go back and stick up for the rights of children to know their own parents.”
She said young adults have never known anything but the carnage triggered by the divorce culture, whether in their own homes or among their friends.
“What that means is that the idea that marriage has something to do with the stability of a child’s relationship with their parents, that idea is completely foreign to them,” Morse said. “When I stand in front of a college audience and I say kids have a right to their parents, they burst into tears sometimes. They’ve never heard anybody say that.”
The concept of kids having a right to know and be raised by their biological parents is also why Morse believes polygamy must be rejected before it gains any more traction.
“The reason you need some kind of institution like marriage is to protect the interests of children to have their own parents,” she said. “If you start from the premise that children are entitled to a relationship with their parents, the two people who brought them into being, if you start from that position and you reason your way outward, you will end up with traditional Christian sexual morality.”
She has no use for the libertarian argument of the government staying out of marriage altogether, even if it means the emergence of polygamy.
“To try to legislate against the law of nature on the scale we’re trying to do in our culture is one more example of the irrationality of the sexual revolution as we’ve seen it unfold here in the last 50 years,” Morse said.
While acknowledging the tide of forces advancing the sexual revolution into its next phase, Morse said the battle must be engaged and can be won.
“We’re being maneuvered and manipulated by the soundbite culture that is very, very noisy,” she said. “And unless you give yourself some silence, unless you give yourself some time to think, you’re going to be pushed and pulled by the latest noise-making machine that comes near you.”