Month Archives: March 2013

Defining Marriage: What Marriage Is Not

by Peter Sprigg

March 15, 2013

On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they will consider the constitutionality of the definition as enshrined in the California state constitution by voters in that state when they adopted “Proposition 8” in 2008 (effectively reversing the decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex “marriage” earlier that year). In Windsor v. United States, they will consider the constitutionality of the same definition of marriage being adopted for all purposes under federal law through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In anticipation of those oral arguments, I will here begin a series of blog posts with questions and answers related to the issue.

First, it is important to recognize that while many people describe this as a debate over who has the “right” to marry, it is actually about something much more fundamental—the definition of what “marriage” is.

First, let’s look at what marriage is not.

Isn’t marriage whatever the law says it is?

No. Marriage is not a creation of the law. Marriage is a fundamental human institution that predates the law and the Constitution. At its heart, it is an anthropological and sociological reality, not a legal one. Laws relating to marriage merely recognize and regulate an institution that already exists.

But isn’t marriage just a way of recognizing people who love each other and want to spend their lives together?

If love and companionship were sufficient to define marriage, then there would be no reason to deny “marriage” to unions of a child and an adult, or an adult child and his or her aging parent, or to roommates who have no sexual relationship, or to groups rather than couples. Love and companionship are usually considered necessary for marriage in our culture, but they are not sufficient to define it as an institution.

All right—but if you add a sexual relationship to love and companionship, isn’t that what most people would consider “marriage?”

It’s getting closer but is still not sufficient to define marriage.

In a ruling handed down June 26, 2003, the U. S. Supreme Court declared in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws (and any other laws restricting private sexual conduct between consenting adults) are unconstitutional. Some observers have suggested that this decision paves the way for same-sex “marriage.” But in an ironic way, the Court’s rulings that sex need not be (legally) confined to marriage undermine any argument that sex alone is a defining characteristic of marriage. Something more must be required.

The Supreme Court v. Love and Marriage

by Pat Fagan

March 14, 2013

After a recent interview on “Washington Watch” with Tony Perkins, some liberals began to inaccurately claim that I want to impose some kind of legal punishment for the use of contraception. I did NOT do so in this interview or have I asserted this in any of my writings. I totally reject such an approach, which would be corrosive of the little social cohesion we have left on matters sexual.

However, I do see the bogus charge as an attempt to distract people from what I did say: The Supreme Court majority used the issue of contraception to launch a radical attack on marriage by legally endorsing sex outside of marriage between single people, giving it rights while denying basic the human right of children to the married love of their parents and the right of society to expect parents to be committed to each other and their children when they bring them into the world. The ruling on contraception was made on the basis of individual liberty, but in fact it lead to radical social reengineering, the sad fruits of which are visible all around us, at massive cost to society and especially to our children.

Instead of protecting a culture of marriage and love, the Supreme Court, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, ushered in and protected the new culture of sexual license, rejection and death. Today, 41 years into this regime, the U.S. is now a highly sexually dysfunctional society: out of wedlock births stand at 42 percent per year, abortions around 30 percent per year, while only 45 percent of our children reach young adulthood having grown up with their biological parents together at home; for the other 55 percent, their parents have rejected each other. We are a society deep in sexual and gender alienation and chaos. It is our children who are taking the punishment.

What my original Public Discourse essay pointed out is that underneath the guise of the ruling on contraception, the Supreme Court majority mounted a radical attack on society’s cultural norms on sexuality and marriage. To this day most people, even legal scholars, have been distracted by the legal endorsement of contraception itself, and have not seen what was wrought by it.

A functional society, like a functional parent, admonishes and corrects judiciously when things go wrong. In a well-run family, such correction is rarely needed and a light dose works best, while in a chaotic family even severe discipline has little effect and likely only adds to the chaos.

We as a society are more like that chaotic, dysfunctional family, which is why I reject the notion of criminalizing the use of contraception. Such legal penalization would only accentuate ills already too numerous. What we need instead is the freedom to choose a radically new sexual regime: one of committed sexual partnering and committed parental love and unity (marriage) between each other and for their children. Such love can only come from free choice. Coercion has no place there. It is corrosive of love.

What Americafaces now is the challenge of rebuilding a culture of belonging and marriage, especially for children from families that are broken (where father and mother have rejected each other). How do these families grow children who are capable of stable intact marriages where spouses love each other and their children? The single mothers and fathers who have pulled this off are national treasures, for they have wisdom and experience the whole country needs. We should identify and celebrate every single one of them.

I suspect that most liberals and libertarians want this arrangement for the nation, as well, though there may be a minority among them who prefer the chaos of non-committed sexual intercourse, despite its personal and public costs. If only that minority could bear the suffering they place on the children who result from non-marital unions. If only their fellow right-minded liberal and libertarian friends would challenge them on marriage and love and matters sexual.

Let me close by repeating: I never called for the criminalization or punishment for the use of contraception. The ones who are being punished most today are the children. To have that cease, American adults have to choose lifelong sexual commitment and love. That requires a unique type of dedicated freedom and sexual responsibility. Can we grow people capable of that? We used to be able to do that. Our national-hero single-parents who have accomplished this have the answer. Let us hear especially from them.

The Social Conservative Review: March 14, 2013

by Krystle Gabele

March 14, 2013

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.

Dear Friends,

Parents matter.

That truth increasingly is not self-evident in a society where gender identity, marriage and even any common cultural understanding of what masculinity and femininity mean are up for grabs.

So, let me go out on a limb and assert that children need a female mother and a male father who stay married and create a home where love, discipline, fidelity, work, and worship are the steady undercurrents of life. And that masculine and feminine, derived fundamentally from one’s gender, are terms with objective meaning.

Can children survive without a mom and a dad who live together in the covenant of marriage? Sure. Can they do as well psychologically, economically, educationally, or spiritually without a traditional parental arrangement? No - check out the data documented by FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute.

The Boy Scouts of America is under attack by those who want to pretend that gender, sexual attraction, and parental guidance in matters of human sexuality don’t matter. FRC is leading the charge to stop them. Why? Because of our enduring confidence that (get ready) men are men and women are women, and that the differences (a) are real and (b) should be celebrated and honored.

This is not about denying opportunity, stereotyping, misogyny, or anything appertaining thereto. It’s about common sense, and the future of our children. Thanks for partnering with us in their defense.


Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Please plan to join FRC - in person at our DC headquarters or online, at no cost - for an event next week featuring two of America’s leading historians. On March 20th, we’ll be joined by Drs. Daniel Dreisbach (American University) and James Hutson (chief manuscript historian at the Library of Congress) as they talk about “Scripture, Rights, and Religion in American History.”

Educational Freedom and Reform

Legislation and Policy Proposals

College Debt

Government Reform


Health Care

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts


Human Life and Bioethics

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Human Trafficking

Marriage and Family

Family Economics

Family Structure

The Feminine Mystique at Fifty: Time for a New Feminism
The Public Discourse



Religion and Public Policy
Religious Liberty

Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.



International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

The Courts
Constitutional Issues

Judicial Activism

Other News of Note

Book reviews

FRC in the News: March 13, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

March 13, 2013

Citizenship Defined

Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, Senior Fellows at FRC, help clear the mud in the citizenship debate in their article featured in American Thinker. Recent questions have been risen concerning the eligibility of people such as Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz, Governor Haley, and Bobby Jindal to run for President. Blackwell and Morrison cite AT Section 8 § 1401 of the United States Code to help readers understand that these people are eligible.

Friendship Reaching Beyond Political Bounds

FRC’s Ken Blackwell was featured in an article on WVXU Cincinnati for his friendship with Jerry Springer. The two men spoke at the University of Cincinnati Medical School for a lecture series that promotes dialogue between people with opposing political views.They have chosen very different ways to address political issues, but still remain friends.

FRC in the News: March 12, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

March 12, 2013

The Fight for Marriage

Peter Sprigg, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, was interviewed in a story featured on Fox 5 News (DC affiliate) that discussed former President Clinton’s change of mind on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Peter Sprigg compared the upcoming DOMA appeal case to the decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973 and stated the Supreme Court:

thought they were going to settle once and for all time a controversial social issue. Instead all they did was inflame it and it’s still as hot today as 40 years later as it was then. I think the court, even the liberal members of the court, learned from that mistake.”

FRC Applauds Arkansas on Strictest Abortion Ban

FRC was cited in the New York Times for their support for Arkansas recent bill that outlaws abortions at 12 weeks, when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected. The author of the bill, State Senator Jason Rapert, stated that “Hopefully we can awaken the nation.”  The article states that:

Evangelical groups like the Family Research Council in Washington are among the enthusiastic promoters of fetal-heartbeat limits.”

On the Eligibility of Ted Cruz

Ken Klukowski, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at FRC, discusses the requirements and definitions of natural-born citizenship and how that applies to Senator Ted Cruz’s eligibility for President. Klukowski’s article on concludes by stating:

“If Cruz runs for the White House, then one of his opponents in the primary would have standing to sue in federal court to argue Cruz is ineligible. But the smart money would be on a court agreeing that Cruz is as eligible as anyone else who was born an American citizen.”

FRC in the News: March 11, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

March 11, 2013

The Supreme Court’s First Assault on Marriage  

Dr. Pat Fagan, Senior Fellow and Director, Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), recounts the Supreme Court case, Eisenstad v. Baird, which ruled “that states could not restrict the sale of contraceptives to married people in his article featured in The Public Discourse. Dr. Fagan also shows the link to this ruling and its detrimental impacts on marriage and society today.

Ken Klukowski Discusses Sulaiman Abu Ghaith and Rand Paul

FRC’s Ken Klukowski’s article on discusses how Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, al-Qaeda’s spokesperson, has been tried under habeas corpus and, even though he is a terrorist, he has the same rights as a citizen on trial. Klukowski also highlights how Rand Paul’s filibuster shows the shifting policy that allows a terrorist to be tried in a civilian court, but may permit drone strikes on U.S. citizens.  

Peter Sprigg on the Upcoming Marriage Cases

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at FRCwas quoted in a recent Washington Times article which compares Roe v. Wade to the upcoming cases on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8. Sprigg stated:

“If the Supreme Court rules that those kinds of man-woman marriage laws violate the U.S. Constitution, then the effect ‘would be to change the definition of marriage for all 50 states, and impose same-sex marriage on all 50 states,’… ‘That’s why these cases are like the Roe v. Wade of same-sex marriage.’”



A Nice Summary of the College Debt Mess

by Chris Gacek

March 9, 2013

Charles Blow of the New York Times has written a very helpful analysis of recent statistics and realities pertaining to the College Debt Crisis.  His column appeared in the March 9th print edition (“A Dangerous ‘New Normal’ in College Debt.”)  See the online article with excellent links to a number of studies, reports.  He begins with the observation, “We are reaching a crisis point in this country’s higher education system.”  A statement that is undeniable. 

He concludes as follows: “Our national educational aspirations and the debt crisis that they’re creating are colliding. We are on an unsustainable track. This will not end well.”  Again, undeniable.

I don’t know if this is sequester-driven brinksmanship or part of a larger budgetary trend, but the Army Times writes that “[t]he Army’s popular Tuition Assistance program is being suspended because of the budget squeeze, although the many thousands of soldiers currently enrolled in courses will be allowed to complete those courses.”  The shutdown began at 5 p.m. EST on March 8th.  If it is the former, it is despicable.  However, I fear that even if sequester-driven politics is in play, the long-term outlook for military budgets keeping up with ever-escalating college tuition is not great.

Home with Honor—The POWs Return: March 8, 1973

by Robert Morrison

March 8, 2013

This date forty years ago deserves to be credited to Richard Nixon as a signal achievement of his presidency. On this date, more than 500 American POWs returned home with honor from North Vietnam.

Richard Nixon had promised the American people in 1968, when he ran for president, that he would end American involvement in the Vietnam War. He pledged to bring our troops home, to repatriate our POWs, and to achieve “Peace with Honor.”

Nixon won that election. The day he took the oath as President, we had 535,000 troops in South Vietnam. We were suffering hundreds of casualties a week. And the Lyndon Johnson administration was still arguing with the North Vietnamese about the shape of a negotiating table in Paris.

Four years later, President Nixon took the oath for a second time. By 1973, American forces had been drawn down to just 25,000 troops in South Vietnam. Our South Vietnamese allies were defending themselves. The U.S. still supported them with air, sea, and financial aid. But U.S. casualties were very few in what was to that point America’s longest war

Nixon had accomplished much. Not that the media was inclined to give him any credit for it. [Or, I confess, young Democrats like me.]

Richard Nixon did not forget our POWs. Our men had been subjected to inhuman torture for years in what they humorously called “The Hanoi Hilton.” Ever afterward, those Vietnam POWs would remember their experience, not with bitterness, but with gratitude for the country that did not forget them.

Ex-POW Jack Fellowes spoke often of his experiences in captivity. I remember him addressing a forum at the U.S. Naval Academy. “I don’t know who’s talking of our torture as breaking us. I saw a good many of us bent a lot.” That was typical of the thumbs up attitude of our heroic men. John McCain famously described the Hanoi Hilton as “not one of those where they put a chocolate on your pillow at night.”

My closest association with the honor and courage of these men came from my friendship with the late Admiral William P. Lawrence. This famous Navy aviator was a top student and an all-American football player at the Academy. With classmate Ross Perot, he developed the Academy’s Honor Concept for Midshipmen.

As a Navy test pilot, he broke records. He became the first man to fly Mach-2 (twice the speed of sound). A slight heart murmur kept him out of the Mercury astronaut program, but not out of danger.

Shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, Bill Lawrence was subjected to brutal treatment as a POW for more than five years.

In this Washington Post story, we learn:

[On parachuting out of his stricken jet, he landed in a rice paddy.] [H]ostile farmers took him and tossed him into a pen with a 400-pound hog.

At the prison, he helped form the tapping-coughing-sniffing communications system that kept the otherwise isolated captives in contact with one another. When the Communists discovered the system, they pitched Adm. Lawrence into a dank, tin-roofed cell. Prisoners called it “the Black Hole of Calcutta.”

During the next two months, he developed heat sores. For nourishment, he competed with enormous rats for scraps of bread.

Rats? Hogs? Few of us can even imagine surviving such treatment, much less writing poetry in our heads while undergoing beatings.

Admiral Lawrence later became the Poet Laureate for his beloved home state. He titled his memoirs, Tennessee Patriot.

I appreciated the Admiral’s connection with the Volunteer State especially when, one Sunday morning, I spied him sitting quietly on the bench outside the Naval Academy Chapel. He was waiting for his driver. I slipped in next to him and he asked me what I was working on. He was always genuinely interested in others.

I told him about my research in U.S. history, the Jackson Era. The Admiral proceeded to talk in detail about Andrew Jackson, how he was responsible for naming the state and other amazing details of Old Hickory’s life. Everything he told me proved correct and made it into the book I was then working on.

When Admiral Lawrence died in 2005, he was buried at the Academy with full military honors. His grave is at the highest point of land in the USNA Cemetery. How fitting for this high-flying son of Tennessee! And how fitting that we now have the USS William P. Lawrence defending our freedom.

FRC in the News: March 8, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

March 8, 2013

Tony Perkins to GOP Leadership: Stop the ‘Government Assault on Our First Freedom’

FRC President Tony Perkins was quoted in a CNS News article concerning the GOP House leaders who could have stopped the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide abortion drugs and contraceptives, even if it goes against their conscience. Perkins stated:

“Our message to the Republican leadership is: We are not interested in another vote on this issue that ‘addresses our concern.’ …We want a resolution on this government assault on our first freedom. The House leadership should reconsider its decision not to place this language on the Continuing Resolution.”

Pat Fagan’s Research Highlighted in the Topeka Capital-Journal

Dr. Pat Fagan, Senior Fellow and Director, MARRI, was highlighted in the Topeka Capital-Journal for his research on intact families. In the article, Dr. Fagan’s research shows that intact families who worship regularly will have better chances of prospering in life. As Dr. Fagan states:

“Kids thrive in marriage. The more family intactness, the more you get the positive outcomes… When nested in the religious community, they thrive even more…Intact marriage, high religious worship and fertility. Key to a functioning society. Key to a thriving child. Key to all the outcomes you want — income, savings, health, mental health, less crime, more education,”

Bill Clinton on the Road to Damascus?

by Robert Morrison

March 8, 2013

The media is treating former President Bill Clinton’s reversal on marriage as a “road to Damascus” conversion. It gets breathless treatment on AOL (“Bill Clinton’s Stunning Reversal”) They go on to relate that the ex-philanderer-in-chief now condemns the law he signed.

Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in May, 1996. His press secretary, Mike McCurry, sneered that it was a hateful piece of legislation. And the spokesman noted the president signed it in the middle of the night. That was intended, we presume, to indicate a level of disdain with which Bill Clinton regarded the bill he felt compelled to sign.

We didn’t yet know that the middle of the night was Bill Clinton’s most active period. Rather like a hamster running on his wheel.

That fall, running for re-election against former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole (R), the Clinton-Gore campaign took out ads on Christian radio stations bragging that President Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act. This clear act of hypocrisy led to this exchange with the White House press corps:

Q: What about this ad that the DNC apparently took down that was running on Christian stations where the President apparently bragged about — he bragged about the President’s vote against gay and lesbian marriages? You’re not sure about whether you want to brag about what the President did on that?

MR. [Joe] LOCKHART: Well, I think the ad was up for several days and factually stated the President’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Q: Is that turning into a problem?

The press corps laughed at that reporter’s rejoinder. So, Clintons’ spokesmen tell the journalists that the campaign ad spoke “factually” about Mr. Clinton’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.

The law he had just signed.

You get the picture. Tell the Christians he signed it and he is proud of it. Tell the reporters he’s opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act.


This is the man who said, under oath, “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

I had the honor of working with Family Research Council’s leaders on this issue. Our president, Gary Bauer, and our lead policy analyst, Bob Knight, deserve the high credit of pressing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) through Congress. My role was limited to naming it the Defense of Marriage Act.

When friendly Senate staffers came to FRC and asked if it was OK to re-name the bill the Definition of Marriage Act, I strenuously objected. No, we must educate people when they hear the name of the bill that marriage itself is under attack.

Now, we know why that law was named as it was.

Bill Clinton has no shame.” I didn’t say that. George Stephanopoulos said it. Stephanopoulos was Clinton’s first Communications Director. He should know. He said that’s a great advantage in politics.

Why did Bill Clinton sign the Defense of Marriage Act? We had succeeded in amassing an overwhelming level of support in both Houses of Congress. The Defense of Marriage Act passed by 342-67 in the House of Representatives and by 85-14 in the Senate. We could have passed the Defense of Marriage Act without a single Republican vote in either Chamber.

Bill Clinton looked at that overwhelming support and had to consider this:

If I veto this bill, they can pass it over my veto and make me look weak.”

And then, I won’t be able to brag to Christian voters that I signed it.”


Bill Clinton has never before been confused with Paul on the Road to Damascus. Or with any other saint, for that matter. I used to tell my students the difference between Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

The former left office in disgrace. The latter entered office in disgrace.

Now, he is even disgracing his former presidency.

February 2013 «

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