Defending Marriage on Capitol Hill

Jim Daly

Focus on the Family has been proudly and consistently defending the sanctity of marriage for decades. The institution was created by God Himself as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman for the benefit of the human race. And despite efforts by a vocal minority to redefine this multi-millennial institution, we will never tire or grow weary in our ministry of upholding God’s plan.

Many of you are familiar with my friend and colleague, Tom Minnery, who serves as our senior vice president of public policy here at the ministry. He has joined the Focus broadcast from time to time for over twenty years, bringing keen insight and thoughtful perspective to various cultural family matters.

Just yesterday Tom testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. An assignment of this nature is challenging, regardless of the topic – but especially when you’re being questioned by a Senate panel comprised of a clear majority who favor a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

As you will see from the video excerpts, Tom’s testimony was strong, reasoned and gracious.

Unfortunately, many of these hearings seem to be more political theater than legitimate fact-gathering forums, and yesterday’s event certainly had its moments. In the latter part of the testimony, the comedian turned senator, Al Franken (D-MN) accused Tom of misquoting research. In the process of making the point that children do best when parented by a married mother and father, Tom cited one study, among many others, that was conducted by a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Waving a piece of paper, the Senator said he had read the study and as defined, the term “nuclear family” could very well have included homosexual parents, thus nullifying Tom’s conclusion.

Senator Franken’s question is a red herring. A common sense reading of the study gives no indication that same-sex couples were included, especially since in the world of social science, the term “nuclear family” has historically referred to households headed by heterosexual parents. Same-sex marriage is such a new thing that if they are represented in studies, researchers will explicitly identify their presence. They didn’t. You can read the study here for yourself.

But for the sake of argument, let’s play Senator Franken’s game. Had he read it closely he would have realized that even if same-sex parents were included, at the time the data was collected, only those from the state of Massachusetts would have been eligible for inclusion. Between 2001 and 2007, the years covered by the study data, Massachusetts was the only state where same-sex marriage was legal. And since studies show that about 0.4 percent of U.S. families with children are headed by same-sex couples – only a tiny fraction of which are “married” - the number in Massachusetts would be smaller still. As such, with so few parents included, if they even were, the impact on the overall results would be infinitesimal.

I am proud of Tom’s courage and admire the poise and resoluteness he exhibited in the face of strong and cantankerous opposition. It’s not easy to withstand scorn and mockery – in fact, Sen. Franken even ended the hearing by saying that he thanked “all the witnesses … well, almost all of them” – a breach not only of senatorial etiquette but of personal respect. 

But Tom and the team here at Focus are willing to endure any degree of criticism so long as we’re doing so in defense of God’s wisdom, not ours. Indeed, in the words of the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth, “We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!”(1 Corinthians 4:10).  This is the very spirit by which we attempt engage others on a daily basis.

Thank you for helping us stand in support of traditional one-man, one-woman marriage.

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