The silence is deafening.

Same-sex marriage activists have the bullhorns, the microphones, the ears of the politicians and the adoration of the media. Meanwhile, those who think gay marriage is just plain wrong, have . . . well, not much.

Kinda quiet around here, don't you think?

To some degree, I understand. Speak out against homosexuality and you run the risk of being labeled a homophobe. Bam! Just like that, they stamp an imprint across your driver's license that says, "Would have worn brown shirts and followed Hitler if lived in Germany during the 1940s." Of course, that's not true, but those are the kind of thoughts that feed our fear.

Nobody wants to be seen as a hate-monger. The last thing we need are more television images of God's faithful spewing wild-eyed hatred from behind placards with Bible verses scrawled in red Magic Marker. Not exactly a winsome witness or particularly stimulating on the intellectual front.

Still, there's a conversation happening out there. It's a conversation about marriage and family that will alter the very face of this nation and every family within it. It's a conversation that will affect you, your kids and your grandkids. The conversation is about an institutional change so huge that no culture throughout the entire span of history has ever embraced it. We need to join the conversation and join fast. Like yesterday.

February 12, 2004 marked "Freedom to Marry" week in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to more than 3,000 homosexual couples. Next week Massachusetts plans on following suit -- or wedding dress, as the case may be.

Since the conversation has been going for some time now, maybe it's best to listen to what's being said and consider how to respond: Talking Points. Politicians and broadcast journalists have long used talking points. Talking Points keep you focused, on track and equipped to join the conversation. Here's how the conversation has been going:

Nobody should be denied the right to marry.

Marriage has always come with restrictions -- age restrictions, familial restrictions, and for thousands of years it has been restricted to one man and one woman. Those restrictions are what give marriage definition.

Redefining marriage to include two men or two women isn't going to change things.

Actually it will change things, as it will reconfigure the institution of marriage. If it becomes "wrong" to limit marriage to one man and one woman, then it would become "wrong" to limit it at all. Remember Heather Has Two Mommies? Heather could have three mommies, four mommies or even two mommies and one daddy.

The talk about same-sex marriage leading to polygamy is hype.

Bad information, friend. According to Evan Gerstmann, author of Same Sex Marriage and the Constitution, the leading legal scholar promoting same-sex marriage, society will probably have to get used to the idea of threesomes, foursomes, etc. Gerstmann says it would be seen as discrimination if we deny anyone the right to marry. The ACLU Utah affiliate is already challenging that state's laws against polygamy. Gerstmann also suggests we might have to learn to live with consensual incest. Not exactly the sort of future many of us are have been hoping for.

Two men or two women who want to commit for life, and become a family, are no different from a man and woman who want to commit for life, and become a family.

They are very different. Marriage is both a religious covenant and a social contract designed to produce future generations, e.g. the pitter patter of little feet, upon which the welfare and continuation of society depends. Homosexual couples have a natural reproduction rate roughly that of the Shaker community, which is now down to one or two elderly women living in Maine. Homosexuals may become "one flesh" but that "one flesh" will never result in a trip to the delivery room. Further, homosexual and lesbian couples are very different from married heterosexual couples in that they are at far greater risk for contracting life-threatening diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.

Heterosexuals haven't done such a hot job with marriage. Divorce rates are terrible. Allowing homosexuals to marry will strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it. How can you be against strengthening marriage?