Is fighting for traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage worthwhile? Ryan T. Anderson, a 33-year-old fellow at the Heritage Foundation, thinks so and is crisscrossing the US to persuade people that they are not irrational or homophobic if they think that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post ran a surprisingly sympathetic profile of Anderson, a Princeton graduate (he majored in music) with a doctorate in economic policy from Notre Dame.
The telegenic non-stop talker has won the respect of his opponents with his articulate arguments and courtesy. He is equally at ease debating at Harvard Law School or on talk-back radio. “He’s brought a level of sophistication and professionalism to [pro-marriage] communications,” says Fred Sainz, of the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign. “He’s a smart operative and a good hire for Heritage — but at the end of the day, he’s on the wrong side of history.”
To give the flavour of Anderson’s arguments, the Post quotes his response to a caller when he appeared on a radio station in Colorado.
“We argue that marriage really exists to unite a man and a woman as husband and wife to then be mother and father to any children that that union creates. This is based on anthropological truths that men and women are distinct and complementary. It’s based on a biological fact that reproduction requires both a man and a woman. It’s based on a social reality that children deserve a mom and a dad. Our argument is that this is what gets the government in the marriage business. It’s not because the state cares about consenting adult romance.”
Anderson is philosophical about the hostile reception he often receives, especially on social media. “On the marriage issue, they don’t think you’re just wrong, they think you’re evil,” he says. “And that your views are bigoted. I count it as a success if I can at least get someone to say, ‘I disagree with you, but I don’t think you’re crazy or full of animus. I think you’re wrong, but I understand why you believe what you believe.’ ”
The depth and irrationality of the animus can be gauged by the reaction of the school in Baltimore he attended from first grade to his senior year in high school. It posted a link to the Washington Post article about Anderson.
No wonder the principal thought it was a good publicity for his school. Anderson must be one of the star alumni of Friends School of Baltimore. He was Phi Beta Kappa at Princeton, one of the best American universities, and is now a national figure, flying from coast to coast, appearing on national television. His work has been cited by a Supreme Court justice. Alas. The Post’s article offended too many students, staff and parents.
Here’s the principal’s explanation for removing the post:
I regret that by highlighting this article, we have caused pain to many members of our community, first and foremost, to our students. We have no greater responsibility than to continually strive to create a safe, nurturing environment for all the children in our care, and it is clear to me that leaving this article in place on our Facebook page is counter to that goal.
What he really meant was safe from different ideas and nurturing for groupthink. Is defending the right of every child to be loved by a mother and a father so dangerous an idea? Apparently so. Keep it up, Ryan. We need you.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. Disclosure: MercatorNet often republishes articles from Public Discourse, the on-line magazine which Ryan T. Anderson edits.