Well, it is just a great honor and a pleasure to be here among friends and to share with you some of my passion for what I think we can all acknowledge as one of the big front-burner items that we face.
I was thinking about what did I want to share with you, and I think I want to do three things; first, just tell you a little bit about myself and what I do.
And secondly, I want to lay out why I've spent so much time and energy on this marriage issue, what is at stake in the marriage debate, both the broader debate about whether we are going to be a society where marriage remains the normal, usual, and generally reliable way to raise children, the kind of sign, the symbol, the ideal, and the more intense but in some way narrower question of whether our government is going to step in and redefine the meaning of marriage for the next generation and for generations to come, why is this an issue worth fighting for, as well as fighting about, why this is a battle that I think that we can't afford to step away from, and that we can and that we will win.
Then third, I want to spend a little time on what I see as two great challenges. They are really kind of different. They lead in different directions, but I am involved in both. So let me just start with what I do because sometimes I wake up in the morning and say how did I get to be the girl who goes around the country talking about same-sex marriage. That wasn't really a job description when I was young. Right? But that's what I do.
I was Gonzaga Law School yesterday, at Columbia Law School, the day before that, at Harvard, Princeton, Yale. I speak to college audiences around the country. I was on the Dr. Phil Show. I go on national television.
Rick Santorum, when the Federal marriage amendment battles were, looped me in to talk to Senators on multiple times, to brief them on how to talk about this marriage issue.
Once I was asked to the Oval Office for that purpose. I have even been to the National Gay and Lesbian Institute at Aspen and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association and the Human Rights Campaign in New York because I make it a point to go and speak before those audiences if they ask me to imitate, as it were. I don't want to imitate very much, but the courage with which they take their case to any possible audience, because I think we need to learn how to match that, and to some of that courage, we need to know how important it is and also how to do it effectively. So that is my mission today.
What is it about this thing called marriage? Why does it really matter? For me, the place to start is to recognize that marriage is a virtually universal human social institution. It exists in virtually every known human society.
There is one small tribe in Africa, the anthropologists quibble about, but over and over again, in these completely disconnected places, down in the jungles of the Amazon and on the steps of Asia and in the deserts of Africa over and over again, human begins come up with something that is recognizably this basic marriage idea. And by the way, it doesn't always look very much like our own marriage tradition which has deep, profound roots in Judeo-Christian culture, but always it has a certain same basic shape. It is always a public union, not just a private and personal union.
It is a sexual union. It is not some other kind of union. Between a man and a woman, sadly at least one man and woman, because polygamy is a common human variant among small tribal societies, although rare among large developed societies, in which the rights and responsibilities of the husband and wife towards each other and towards any children of their union are publicly defined and supported, and it is not just left up to young people in the middle of their romantic dramas and psychological passions to work out all by themselves what this whole big dimension of human experience means.
I like to pause and say here I am not saying that just because it has been that way in every known human society we can't change it because, after all, we are Americans. Right? And that that is not a very American thought.
What I am asking you to do is ask the question why is it. There aren't that many human universals. For those of us who are people of faith, why is it written in the human heart across cultures? Even in places that do not know God can know certain basic truths about human beings.
I think if you bother to ask that question, it is not that hard to see. Marriage is a universal human idea. It has these deep roots in three persistent facts about human beings everywhere.
The first is that the overwhelming majority of us are powerfully attracted -- and not by reason -- to acts that create new human life. So sex between men and women makes babies. It's a news flash.
The second truth is that society needs babies. Reproduction is optional for the individual. Not everyone has to do it, but only those societies that successfully figure out how to manage the procreative implications of this male-female sexual attraction thing survived to become one of the human possibilities that our anthropologists went out and busily recorded.
And the third idea, the third truth in which marriage is based is that children need a father, as well as a mother. Okay? And it is fatherhood that is most at risk in the whole marriage debate.
Since I was a kid, we had this whole big debate about gender roles and feminism, and that is a really important debate, but for this purpose, I want you to set it to one side because what I am pointing to is even more basic than that.
Just put it this way. Let's make it really, really simple. When a baby is born, there is bound to be a mother somewhere close by. Right?
If we want fathers to be there for their children and the mothers of their children, biology alone is not going to take us very far. Okay? We need a cultural mechanism for linking the father to the mother-child unit and for communicating to the young people again in the midst of their adolescent intense outbursts of need, longing, yearning, and passion, that they have a serious obligation to make sacrifices, to take the efforts that it is going to take to get this great good for children, because it doesn't happen without a great deal of effort,and individuals don't make this kind of effort.
We have seen in the inner cities what happens when a marriage culture breaks down, when the idea that this is what is normal for children breaks down. What happens is that children get born across multiple households in ways that even a well-intentioned guy could probably not be an effective father to children.
And by the way, you talk about dramas, you talk about what happens when a young man, he's 22, he's got a woman that he thinks he loves. He's got children with a couple of other women that he is trying to be a father for, which means that he is going back and visiting the household of his ex-girlfriends, which I don't know if you have heard the phrase "baby mama drama," but there is quite a lot of drama. It is really hard to imagine how even people with more resources than some of these young people in the inner city would manage to pull that off successfully.
We know what happens too because we have conducted this great experiment over the last 50 years. When I was young, people were very optimistic about how the collapse of marriage or the decline of marriage represents social progress. Women will be liberated from archaic, and when I started this whole marriage debate thing, which had nothing to do with gay people, it was all about whether we are happy with our high rates of divorce and unmarried child bearing.
People said to me -- well, they said "If you said marriage really matters because children need a mother and father," they said, "you're some kind of religious zealot who hates single mothers." Right? That's what they said. It's like the same narrative line that takes place in the gay marriage debate. It's just a different object.
What we found out through scientific evidence, we know that when mothers and fathers don't get and stay married that children are at risk. Every bad thing that can happen to a child happens more often when through no fault of their own, their mother and/or their father do not provide this protective gift of decent, average, good enough, loving marriage for their children. So higher rates of poverty, substance abuse, infant mortality, physical illness, emotional illness, depression, more teen suicide, higher rates of juvenile delinquency, higher rates of education failure, you are less likely to go to college -- you are more likely to drop out of high school. If you graduate from high school, you are less likely to get into college. If you go to college, you are less likely to graduate.
You can track through social science, the divergence in the paths of children. You can see the difference in these two groups, 30 years later, based solely -- the only thing you know is the marital status of the parents. It is a very powerful thing called marriage, and by the way, it is not just the children that suffer and the adult men and women who suffer. Whole communities suffer from the social pathologies, and when it gets bad enough, the complete disorganization, as we can see in so many of our neighborhoods.
Taxpayers suffer. Most of us -- I think I am in a room where I can safely say all of us are deeply committed to the ideal of limited government, but when families don't fall apart, you are left with these intense real social problems that government has to address and social needs that the fragmented family is not capable of addressing. This is not the most important reason to care about marriage, but let me tell you it is costing every single person, a great -- every single taxpayer, a great deal of money out of their pockets every year.
There was a study I participated in that IMAP released that suggests that it is at least $100 million each and every year. I mean, it is billions of dollars over the course of the decades, and that is an extremely conservative estimate of the taxpayer cost of divorce. So there's lots of reasons to be concerned about marriage.
And for most of the time I talked about marriage, I didn't talk about gay marriage because -- well, for two reasons. One, divorce and unmarried childbearing, fatherlessness, this is not an us-them problem. It affects virtually every American family, some of us more and some of us less.
So I just thought we should focus on those problems and don't worry about that divisive gay marriage thing, which struck me as highly improbable, because the second reason I never got involved in this debate is I said, gee, there's some ideas that are just so dumb you don't have to talk about them.
That is the mistake. Answer every argument.
When I learned the Goodrich decision was coming around, I quit my job at the Institute for American Values because I felt that this debate had been dominated too much by people whose primary issue was homosexuality, both pro and con, and that is an important debate, but meanwhile, on an almost drive-by fashion, without even really thinking about it, we were about to change the public meaning of our most basic social institution for protecting children, and the people who knew about it and understood marriage, I thought at the time were just not on post.
So, for the last five years, I have gone around the country everywhere I can to talk about marriage, to explain why this issue is important, and eventually, with Brian Brown and Princeton University Professor Robby George, we founded an activist organization, the National Organization for Marriage, and maybe at the end, I can talk to you, if you have questions, a little bit more about that, but so many people here in California played important roles in the Prop 8 victory. We needed everyone coming together.
What NOM did is come out and working with Protect Marriage last January, we recognized the need that the Supreme Court was likely to overturn gay marriage because we had been very involved in the litigation efforts in other States. So California, we knew was likely to become a hot -- to rule against marriage, and that we had to get it on the ballot before the court ruled if we were going to give the people of California a chance to repudiate the court.
So Brian, who was living in Princeton, was visiting his folks here in California over Christmas break last year, and he just never went home. His wife said, "I called up my mom in Long Island and said we live in California now." We worked. Matt Malleck [ph] helped us, and Bishop Cordileone, and so many people helped. Again, I don't want to overemphasize what we did, but that is what we did, to give Californians a chance to vote on this.
And I will tell you, the one thing I will say is that I did this -- when I was asked to do this by Bishop Cordileone of San Diego, to help him raise money and would we come and be the vehicle for him, I had so many people call me up and tell me not to do it, and these are people who agree -- they told me it was impossible, that you'd get -- that, you know, you'd rope in some donors and then you wouldn't -- there is no way you could raise the amount of money that it would take, it was destined to fail, and then if you got it on the ballot, you were going to lose anyway. These were the people -- these were the good Christians on my side.
One guy called me up like four times, and he was involved in, God bless him, working for Sarah's Law, the parental notification bill here in California, and the fourth time, I just looked at him, and I said, "Listen, you've lost three times. You lost the original law, and then you lost twice, and God bless you, I admire you that you are coming back to fight again.
I haven't even lost in this marriage issue once, and you are telling me somehow it's impossible for us to win," you know, and once again, in November, the people in California proved that when it comes to marriage, red State, blue State, purple State like Florida, Americans think marriage means a man and a woman, in spite of the incredible conflagration of forces that we faced in California. So my hat is off to everyone here in this room and at this conference who worked for it.
So the marriage debate really matters because marriage is a necessary relationship. The reason the government is involved in marriage is this isn't how we demonstrate how sacred relationships are, by surrounding them with government regulation. That makes no sense at all. Right?
The reason, whether you marry or not, whether anyone marries or not, we all have a stake in the health of marriage because it is the way we transmit our culture into the future. It is the way you bring together the two great halves of humanity, male and female, to make and raise the next children, generation. So that those children can know and be known by and love and be loved by their own mother and father, and I have no fear, no matter what is at stake at this.
I have the progressive myth that gay marriage is the wave of the future. I know that that is wrong. Okay? I know because what I really believe is that a society that cannot hang onto an idea as basic as to make a marriage, you need a husband and a wife, you know, all those big Darwinian believers out there, you know, can't get it in their heads that a society that can't hang onto that idea is probably not going to make it over the long run, sad to say.
And I am about to tell you, by the way, the second thing that is at stake, which is that if we lose this, if we don't find the way, the best way to effectively fight this battle now, we are going to face a position where every traditional faith community, especially the largest, the Christian community, is going to face a new wave of government pressure to treat us like second-class citizens. Okay?
So I am concerned about that, and I think you should be too, but in the end, I know that the church will prevail because God promised us that too.
So what is at stake in the marriage debate is ultimately just a little thing called the civilization of the United States of America. Right? You know, I mean, because that's -- God did not promise us an eternity for American civilization. That is our job to pass on the blessings that we have been given that so many people built and gave to us, to pass it on to the next generation.
So the biggest -- I get asked a lot of times. I was just asked how do we combat this argument, how do we combat that argument. I have an excellent set of talking points, and I am happy to share them with you, but here is the message I want to tell you. All those arguments that you find hard to combat are not the main argument in this debate. The big lie in this debate is that same-sex marriage isn't really going to affect you.
So, even if you don't really agree with it, why don't you go think about economic policy or life issues or anything else that you care about, and just let us reshape the marriage culture because it is only going to be about what Adam and Steve do in private. Right?
I wish that were true, but it's not, and the quickest way to explain -- this is what I learned as I went through, started piecing through the arguments, and looking for it, about what his marriage thing means.
The architects of gay marriage understand what their goal is. Their goal is to get a new moral principle embedded into law and then to use the law to reshape the culture. Okay? So that this is the new moral norm.
It is hard for some of us. By moral, I don't mean good. I mean it is a moral idea that I think is profoundly wrong. Okay? But the heart of the gay marriage idea is to get government to endorse this principle. There is no difference, no morally relevant difference between two guys pledged to stay together in their sexual union and a husband and wife, and anyone who sees any difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples is exactly like a bigot who opposed interracial marriage. Right?
Now, one problem is that the marriage idea, as we have historically understood it, is exactly the opposite. Okay? Marriage sits there in the law, and it points, and it says, "Look, there's something special about unions of husband and wife" that justifies this unique status in law and culture and society.
So, if the government picks the gay marriage idea, what is it about the marriage idea that has to go? Anything that really is different about opposite-sex unions has to be publicly defined as either morally irrelevant, not something that you are allowed to attach weight to, and/or completely disconnected from whatever the purpose of marriage is in the public square, including that these are the only kind of unions that can make new life and connect that child to their mother and father.
It also means -- okay. So what does it mean when your government adopts the principle that people like you and me who think marriage is a husband and wife really are just like bigots who opposed interracial marriage? It is kind of hard in rapidly changing times to wrap your head that this is really what is at stake. They say it over and over again. Believe them. They mean it.
So ask yourself how do we treat -- how does the law and the government and the culture treat bigots who oppose interracial marriage. You want a short-cut view to what 10 years down the road it is going to mean if we lose this debate? Just ask the question.
Well, here's the good news. We don't throw you in jail if you are a racist. I do not think pastors will be thrown in jail if they refuse to marry same-sex couples. We may live to be grateful. The First Amendment doesn't do everything we'd like, but it probably does do that, and we may soon be in times where we're grateful for it.
But in spite of the fact that you do not criminalize racism, the law does intervene very powerfully to marginalize and stigmatize and repress racist ideas and racist institutions.
Now, how? Well, licensing, professional licenses is a big area, radio broadcast licenses, but teachers, social workers, attorneys, physicians, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, can you be an open racist and retain your government credentialling in these areas? Not clear, but it's definitely clear that you cannot openly conduct your practice along racist lines.
You cannot -- school accreditations. Can you run a Christian marriage counseling program that is unwilling to counsel same-sex couples on how to keep their relationships together, the same as you would a husband and wife? Well, there's a case in Georgia now which doesn't even have gay marriage yet in which a counselor was released from her job because she tried to refer a same sex couple, and this was judged to be orientation discrimination.
Tax-exempt status. It is the biggest stick the government has, not only the Federal tax-exempt status but the State tax-exempt status, and here this issue has actually already been litigated on interracial marriage. Okay?
In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in a case called Loving v. Virginia that State governments couldn't ban interracial marriage, and I always have to pause and say I don't have a problem with that. I think that's fine. I think bans on interracial marriage are actually violations of Christian principle and also the fundamental human right to marry.
But the Supreme Court, just like the California Supreme Court, pretended that this is only going to affect State governments, not private individuals, but it took less than 20 years and no further action, no act of Congress, no act by an elected official who is accountable to voters.
It was an IRS bureaucrat who told Bob Jones University which actually was unusually integrated. It had a large number of both black and white students but forbade interracial marriage and dating because of its, in my view, deeply false understanding of Christian principles, but the government told -- it wasn't Bob Jones University reflecting on scripture who rejected that. It was the government who stepped in and told Bob Jones University that they had to -- "You have to choose between your religious objections to interracial marriage and your tax-exempt status," and that was litigated up to the Supreme Court in the early '80s, Bob Jones University v. IRS.
Yes, they can do this. Okay? Yes, if you promulgate views that are contrary to basic public policy, the government can take away your tax-exempt status.
Now, this will not happen all at once. Okay? It is not plausible to imagine as big as the support for marriage is right now, that the first thing that is going to happen after you go to gay marriage is they are going to start taking away the tax-exempt status, but what is striking to me is even though this -- the goal will be to put the principle in the law, while lying to people, making them believe it is not going to affect them, and then start the litigation process of eating away around the corners, which will lead people, by the way, quite sensibly to start muting their strong views on marriage because they will have to, or there will be people running soup kitchens that will say, "I am trying to reach out, you know, through Christ with mercy to these people. It doesn't make sense for me to take the risks that if I speak out on this thing, it is going to shut down my whole ministry."
So it is not just that bad people will be pressured to be silenced. Good people for good reasons will begin to mute their views, and as the circle draws in, right, as people are less and less willing to speak up for God's own truth about marriage, as public support dwindles because people don't hear it anymore, it's down the road. I don't know if it's 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, but I know that if you go around the country saying that we -- the principle I am endorsing is that you are like a bigot who opposes interracial marriage, if you think marriage means a husband and wife, that if the law adopts that principle, it is going to move in that direction very strongly.
And what is shocking to me is what is already happened. I would never believe that I live in a United States of America where one of the oldest Christian adoption agencies, Catholic Charities, could be put out of business by the government of Massachusetts, because they will not place children with same-sex married couples, the same as they would a husband and wife. Right?
It was not about gay adoption. Everyone knows that gay couples are allowed to adopt in Massachusetts. There's dozens of other adoption agencies that these couples can go to. It was about whether one Christian agency could try to do good work in the public square. It wasn't even about the money. That's bad enough if you are going to be excluded from equal access to any government benefit because you believe marriage means a man and a woman, but it is the licensing issue.
In Massachusetts, it is actually a felony to run an adoption agency without a license, and you can't get a license without pledging not to discriminate.
And then the next thing that happened in New Jersey, when the legislature under the orders of the courts passed a full marriage equivalent civil union bill, without any religious liberty protections, again, the parallels with the Bob Jones case were really striking.
There's a Methodist group in a town called Ocean Grove. They have a beach-front pavilion. They run a ministry out of it. They do all kinds of good Christian works. There's a law in the books in New Jersey that is designed to encourage public access to the beach. You own private property. You let the public use it. You get a tax break. Okay?
And this Methodist group didn't try to police the sexual orientation of people who walk across their beach-front property, but they did have a pavilion that they were willing to let to the public for weddings. But they refused same-sex couples who showed up for civil union ceremonies, and those couples complained to the Human Rights Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which is oddly the relevant bureaucracy, found out about it.
And by the way, people in New Jersey will tell you it's not nearly so quick to leap on actual environmental threats, but they stripped the Methodist group of part of their real estate tax exemption, and again, there is no real recours. They can, in fact, do that.
What was striking to me, again, in these early battles to see, do they really mean it, do they really mean it? Yes, they really do mean it.
When the Catholic Church in Massachusetts asked for a very narrow legal exemption, wasn't trying to affect gay adoption generally, just let us keep helping these poor abandoned children like we have been doing for a couple hundred years here in the State of Massachusetts, the entire political establishment said no.
The Human Rights Campaign issued a press release saying it was evil. It had nothing to do with religious faith. It was just wickedness on the part of the Catholic bishops to want to try to keep acting on Catholic principles. The entire political establishment said no, and the reason they said no is telling.
They said, "Listen, we wouldn't do this." This is the power of an analogy, a principle put into the law. "We wouldn't give you an exemption to enable you if you refuse to give children to black couples. So we are not going to help you in this way either." Right?
This is if they -- there's no good alternative to victory, both because marriage is so important and so necessary and because once they win, anyone who is a good Christian or Jew or Muslim actually, anyone who is a person of faith who believes in traditional sexual morality is going to be able to be discredited in the public square. They are going to really be -- we have seen this in Italy, oddly, when a public minister in Italy was appointed to an EU post, and they asked him about -- and you know, he indicated he was a Catholic. He said, "I have no problem enforcing the laws, and I am willing to enforce the rights of everyone, including the gay citizens in Italy and Europe, whatever their legal rights are, but my personal belief is it is a sin," and he was not allowed the post.
Where this heads is in a direction. It is a brilliant stroke if they succeed because, while everyone is busy worrying about all these other side issues that seem more important at the time, they will be putting a principle in using it. That will make it very, very difficult for faithful Christians to participate in public life thereafter.
So the good of children, the good stewardship of the taxpayers' purse, the future of American civilization, religious liberty, the same-sex marriage, they understand. Our opponents understand why it is worth devoting so much energy to this issue because they understand what they win. If they can persuade us -- we are talking about this. Their second most important argument, maybe even their most important argument is there is no way to win this thing. Right? They want to convince us to give up without a fight by trying to misdirect us about what is at stake in this and by trying to persuade us that there is no pathway to victory because that's the way -- by the way, that is the definition of victory in war. Right? It's not when you eliminate your enemy. It is when you successfully make him give up his will to fight you. That is when the war ends, and culture wars are the same way.
I talked a long time. I want to briefly just say what are the two great challenges because they are relevant to this part of the discussion, and they are very different. One is political, and one is cultural.
What I am excited about -- every crisis is also an opportunity. If we figure out how to win this marriage debate, it is going to be in part because we figured out new and more effective models for engaging in politics in the public square. Okay?
And everything I know, I know -- I have kind of watched the difference between how the gay rights groups operate and how social conservatives operate in the public square. They are 2 percent of the population. Right? We are -- on marriage issue, we are 60 percent. On the life issue, we are somewhere, 40 to 50 percent. There's a lot more of us than there are them. Right? Why does this battle seem so mismatched?
Part of it, I have come to believe is that conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, have two models for political engagement, and they are both very limited. Okay?
The first is what I like to call the mass uprising model, and you hear this all the time. It is like when the people find out, they will rise up and throw off their oppressors. You know, it is nice when it happens, but it is hardly a plan. Right, you know?
And the second is what I call the "secular Messiah model." You know, you elect a -- you join in a great coalition. You elect a godly man, and then it's his job to take care of your problems for you. This really, really struck me.
I started getting calls -- I don't remember -- around 2006 when people were saying -- the questions from the reporters is why aren't you winning on the Federal marriage amendment, don't you think Bush should do more, and I'm -- yeah, I always think everyone should talk more about marriage. So I am not going to say no to that, but the poor man was 33 percent in the polls at the time. Right?
What never happened with the Federal marriage amendment is we never took the step of going from forcing a -- getting a vote on it to targeting someone who voted wrong and causing them to lose their seats. Right, you know?
I am a girl with a pen, as Becky said primarily, but, fortunately, I have Brian Brown and some other good people working with me on the marriage issue. But that's a major goal of ours, to build a million activists with a direct, you know, a (c)(4) that can start PACs, that can be directly engaged in the political process.
I know there are other people in the room doing that as well, and so I will just say that the crisis is pretty bad, but with every crisis is a calling, a new opportunity for figuring out an effective response. If we succeed, it will change the landscape of American politics.
The second big challenge is very different. It is about transmitting a marriage -- I mean, this gay marriage thing, it is a battle we have to win, but it provides us the breathing space for what we really need to do, which is to figure out how to transmit a Christian marriage culture to the next generation, to our own children first against all of the forces that raise against us, and I think every parent in this room understands the challenge, and then to the wider culture, to the children who are left longing for love.
The thing about this marriage thing is it is really stubborn. I would like to say I have been in lots of rooms with single mothers and their children, and I have never met a single mother yet who, when you ask her what she wants for her child, says, "Well, gee, I can't wait until my daughter becomes an unmarried mother. That's my dream for her," or, you know, "When my son has kids with several different women who live in different States, that's going to be -- that's what I want," you know. There's something really stubborn about this longing in the human heart for that love between -- that our bodies matter, that male and female mean something, that these yearnings are not just appetites that they call us out of ourselves into something kind of great and meaningful and significant.
The one thing we have in our favor in this task is that there is no even near substitute for this thing called marriage, which is the belief that love is real, that it can last, that it can be fruitful, that it matters, and as we fight the urgent battles on the political front, we are also interested in partnering and developing tasks, everything from resources for parents but new strategies for how do you communicate effectively, how do you rebuild and strengthen a marriage culture.
The mission of the National Organization for Marriage is protecting marriage in the faith communities that sustain it. The people in this room have done more than most towards that larger mission, and I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to hear me today.
MODERATOR: We have a few minutes for questions, and we want to be able to have you ask them. We have a microphone in the room. I see a hand down here, and we will start with you, Carl.
ATTENDEE: Maggie, aren't you concerned about the long-term implications, though, of the vote in California?
The last time we had the vote, it was over 60 percent. Now it was just 52 percent, and with the increasing amount of sex education that goes on that nurtures the homosexual lifestyle by law and the increasing amount of litigation to get religion out of the public square, the long-term implications are that they are going to bring this back on the ballot, even if the Supreme Court doesn't overrule the people, in another four years, and if you just look at the trends, it is going to not pass.
Let me talk about that.
First of all, on the small point, the 52 percent, that is a talking point for the other side that many people respond to. Everything was a raid against us in this. I am not disappointed by the 52-percent margin. We had the Republican governor coming out against Prop 8. They rewrote the ballot language. When they changed the ballot language, we went out, and we collected signatures.
The Secretary of State or the Attorney General, whoever issues the ballot title language, we collected under one description of what this is. In midstream, they just rewrote it in a way that caused us to lose 7 to 10 points. Right?
They spent $40 million to defeat us. What they lacked was messages that worked for them. That is their problem. Okay?
I think that if they get it on the ballot in 2010, that we will win, that we will win by a larger margin, and that it will be a mistake for them to do that.
Now, if they wait 10 years and we just put our heads under a rock and we don't do that other task of figuring out how to rebuild a marriage culture and strengthen the Christian understanding and reach out to the common good in these things, yeah, there is no permanent victories at all. That's the smaller issue.
The larger issue is when people say that to me, I just -- I think about Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president, and I will recall hearing an interview with him when the Soviet Union still existed and was still dominating Czechoslovakia, and he was asked what are the odds that your little country can break free from the enormous powerful Soviet Union, and he said to the reporter, "I don't know, but I know that I am not going to spend another minute thinking about that question." Okay?
The stakes are high enough, especially we. I mean, with God, all things are possible. Right? How can we believe that after thousands of years across many different human dimensions, this idea that springs up on us and as powerful as the forces are against us and we have to acknowledge all that, you know, I just think this marriage thing has legs, and I think we need to figure out how to meet the challenges.
I also sit and I reflect on the reality of how many times -- this is the basic progressive myth, and it substitutes for God in the minds of progressives, which is that we own the future, and so there is no point in your even fighting us, give up.
When I was a teenager, I was told there would be no women home raising children by the year 2000 because they did the same thing. They said look at the trend line on the graph and then project it forward as if the future only moves in one direction.
I was told that the abortion issue would be over with because, again, in 1978, if you looked at where the young people were headed and you projected that out in a uniform way, there would be nobody against abortion anymore. All they had to do was wait for the old folks to die.
I was told the Soviet Union was the wave of the future. I mean, I don't really understand how we live through a generation where this incredible evil empower, which even I -- I mean, I thought it was really powerful, and we would have to fight it, and who knew in the end who would win, and it is gone. It is gone. Do you know why it is gone? Because it was based on a false anthropology. Okay? A false view of the human person, and with a great deal of energy and bloodshed, you can promote a lie like that, a lie like Communism. It can cause a lot of damage for a long time. So you should not minimize the power of this kind of idea, but in the end, it fell because it wasn't true, and that is why I say fundamentally, I don't know if it is 20 years or 200 years, but fundamentally, the future does not belong to people who think that what Adam and Steve are doing in a union is a marriage. I mean, it just doesn't.
So I acknowledge all of the difficulties, and they are real and they are serious. What I never like is the people who say, "Well, we have got to have a vote now because, 10 years from now, we will have no chance." Right? That is just another sophisticated way of giving up. Right?
What we need to do, we need to win this marriage battle. We need to fight the idea that Christianity is like racism, and we need to win that. And we need to figure out for a variety of reason how we strengthen marriage for the next generation. Those are the tasks. Every human society before ours figured out how to do this marriage thing. We are in a particular crisis right now. It looks bad, but there is an answer. I know it, and it is up to us, to all of us, to figure out how.
MODERATOR: Okay. I think we have time for just one more question.
MS. GALLAGHER: Sorry. I have long answers.
MODERATOR: Right here.
ATTENDEE: Maggie, you made reference to you had talking points. Many people here at CNP talk to the media. They write. They speak. So could you make a special point of getting those talking points to all the CNP members?
MS. GALLAGHER: Yeah, sure. Who do I give them to? Amy or Becky?
ATTENDEE: Amy would be good.
MS. GALLAGHER: Okay, good. I will get them passed around. Thank you so much, Richard. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Well, that was a short question. So we have time for one more.
MS. GALLAGHER: Oh, okay. One more.
ATTENDEE: Is Maggie's speech going to be released on CD here at this conference?
MODERATOR: Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we're recording right now.
MS. GALLAGHER: Thanks.
ATTENDEE: This is actually a real question, not just a set-up question. Could you explain how do you think the marriage issue fits in with the broader issues that conservatives are dealing with, and how can it be used by conservatives that might not realize that as an asset to accomplish some other goals that it could coalition with, like the life issue, other issues?
MS. GALLAGHER: Well, now you are asking the girl with a pan, a specific issue of politics that maybe I don't know the whole answer to, but I will tell you this.
When they knock off our people on the marriage issue, they knock off all our people on the life issue as well. So it is knocking off our entire formed team. Tim Gill is coming in. I don't know how many people know about this gay billionaire who is coming in with $100 million, and his goal is to strangle the Rick Santorums in their cradle, right, to make it impossible for pro family leaders to rise.
The peculiar thing is that because it is so difficult in elite circles, people get the wrong idea about the marriage issue, and not only in politics.
I am one of the few people who has access to Catholic clergy. I have been working with a number of bishops. Catholic priests are not like ministers. You can't just get them on conference calls. You really have to go through the hierarchy, and I have been blessed with -- we have now had seven or eight dioceses come to us, and it looks like maybe 10 or 20 in this coming year where the bishop gets all the Catholic priests in the room, and we explain what is going to happen with the same-sex marriage and religious liberty.
One of the things that I have to tell -- sometimes I have to tell them -- this isn't like abortion. In any room that you go in, quite likely 55, 60 percent of the people at least are already on your side. It is just the ones who are against you are louder and noisier. Right? So it is this peculiar thing where a force is saying this is an issue we should avoid, when it is one of the few issues where we not only strongly appeal to our base, but we reach across that base to the mushy middle people.
What turned the tide in Prop 8 in California? I don't want public schools teaching my children and grandchildren that same-sex marriage is okay. That is a decision that should be left to parents and their values. When that popped up in the focus grouping and then it popped up in the advertising, that is what people believe. That is what they respond to.
So I think, again, there is an opportunity, and one of the things we want to do is learn how to use this issue, to help build a new formed team of impressive leaders, and one of the things I love about the club for growth, economic conservatives and social conservatives, what we are learning very rapidly in Obama administration is that we really do need to hang together or they are going to do some really bad stuff to all of us. So I think that is clear. I don't know if that answers your question.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
MS. GALLAGHER: Thanks.