Fighting for Marriage, One Conversation at a Time

Wedding Rings

Wedding Rings

You can fight to save the whales, dolphins, and baby sea turtles, but if you fight to save traditional marriage, you will be called a “bigot” and be compared with hate groups.

Thus, we should expect the names to fly on Tuesday, March 26th during the “March for Marriage” in Washington, D.C. The event is scheduled to coincide with the opening of two cases in the United States Supreme Court that could redefine what it means to be married in the U.S.

In the first case, the Supreme Court will determine whether Proposition 8, the citizen’s initiative approved by the people of California in 2008 to restore marriage between a man and a woman, is constitutional.

Following will be arguments for second case; the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage to be between one man and one woman for government benefits.  The “March for Marriage” planned by supporters of traditional marriage is expected to draw large crowds of both supporters and protestors.

According to William B. May, author of the new book, Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: a Guide for Effective Dialogue, and President of Catholics for the Common Good (CCG), many people on both sides of the debate are focused on whether it’s right for homosexuals to marry rather than being focused on what marriage actually is.  “The best way to defend traditional marriage is to know how to define it,” he said in an interview.  He continued, “Too often, we don’t always know how to express it, even when we know in our hearts we know what marriage is. Instead, we use arguments that get us off course or start with false premises from the culture.”

May says, “People often start with falsehoods and try to argue to the truth.” With volunteer leadership groups through CCG and in his book, he coaches people by taking social doctrine and translating it into secular language in a way that people can recognize as the truth.  “Pick up any paper and the issue is about whether it’s constitutional to exclude gays from marriage,” May continued.  “Our way of looking at it is whether it’s constitutional to have a civil institution that unites kids with their moms and dads. That is the meaning and purpose for marriage.”

May explained that the relationship between marriage and children is considered secondary today. “Not every married man and woman has children, but every child has a mother and father. It is what connects them.  When a man and woman marry,” he said “they choose to make themselves irreplaceable to each other, and that is what capacitates them to receive a child as a gift.  That child is irreplaceable to them and they are both irreplaceable to the child… their choice to marry creates the circle of irreplaceability that we call the family.” 

He uses the starting point of children’s rights to help others see the truth and beauty of marriage. May says that the fact that our society is facing a crisis in marriage highlights our need to strengthen the recognition of what it is.  According to him, this has nothing to do with homosexuality but the ability to have laws, school curricula, and institutions that teach our children about the importance of men and women marrying before having children. 

“Today, surveys indicate more than half of young people think it is okay to have children and not be married, and almost half believe the increase in different family types is a good thing without realizing these are families with children deprived of their mothers and fathers united in marriage. This should concern every parent. Who wants their grandchildren to not have married mothers and fathers? Who wants their kids to grow up to be single parents?”

May says one of the great tragedies is that most of the public is misinformed about what is at stake. When the U.S. Supreme Court meets this week it will be considering whether it is unconstitutional to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Considering the rights of children, the question should be whether it is constitutional to have a civil institution that unites kids with their moms and dads.

Supporters of marriage have unwittingly added to the confusion, May contends, by keeping the focus on opposition to “same-sex marriage”. The term gives the impression of same-sex couples merely participating in marriage but in reality that is impossible unless marriage is redefined. In the process, the only institution that specifically unites kids with their moms and dads is eliminated from the law along with the ability to promote it without being discriminatory, as he discussed in his booklet. 

To bring clarity to the false premises buried in common arguments in favor of redefining marriage, May suggests asking the question, “What does this have to do with the only institution that unites kids with their moms and dads?” For example, this reveals that arguments about homosexual parenting are irrelevant. These are situations more closely akin to adoption. Looking from the perspective of the child, the argument that homosexuals have their own children through sperm or egg donation and surrogacy reveals the immorality of creating a child with the intention of depriving her of the fundamental right to know and be cared for by her mother or father or both.

From the core understanding of marriage as the foundation for the circle of irreplaceability between man, woman and children, May says the critical linkage between marriage and adoption become more apparent.  He said that in an adoption, it is the child that should be served and protected.  Only a man and a women can stand in the place of the father and mother lost.  Only a man and woman who have made themselves irreplaceable to each other have really prepared themselves to do that. When looked at it from the perspective of the child, this makes sense.”

Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: a Guide for Effective Dialogue, published by Emmaus Road Publishing, is available at Catholic bookstores nationwide and comes in both paperback and Kindle versions. “It is more than just a booklet, it is a movement,” explains May.  “It provides guidance for parents to talk to their kids in a way they can share with their friends – in a simple fashion but with deep philosophical underpinnings.”   It avoids attacking and name calling and instead presents the truth. “We are an expression of the ‘New Evangelization,’ looking at marriage and family in a totally different way that speaks the truth.  Everyone can take part in this call to evangelize the culture on this issue…they can do it ‘one conversation at a time,’ starting around the family dinner table.”


Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is a writer with Teresa Tomeo Communications, an award-winning author, and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on TV and radio stations across the country. Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, and children’s book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It (available for pre-order now!) will both be released in April.

To read more, visit Patti’s blog and website. Visit her author page on facebook and also GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth, Homeschool Heart and Big Hearted Families.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Patti’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.


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