Cover Story

Marriage amendment stakes: A referendum on whether kids 'do best with moms and dads'

Matt Daniels is the point man on the constitutional amendment defining marriage as a one-man/one-woman union. He spoke with WORLD after President Bush endorsed his proposal.

Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

On the amendment's chances of passage-

Better than ever. It's always been my conviction that there's a deep reservoir of common sense in this country. Despite what one sees in the media, the American people remain strongly committed to the universal concept of marriage as the union of male and female. And if they are simply given a democratic vehicle to express those beliefs, our chances are good.

On the stakes-

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This is more important than the next election, more important perhaps than the next couple of elections, more important than either political party-because 100 years from now the outcome of this debate will have an impact upon the lives of every man, woman, and child in the United States. Our country could do without the Republican or Democratic parties, but we simply cannot survive without the fundamental institution of civil society: the family formed uniquely and essentially by the union of the two genders to parent the next generation.

On the obstacles-

Politically, we will rise or fall in the United States Senate. The conventional wisdom with amendments is that [they] emerge from the Congress only to die in the states. But because the Alliance for Marriage chose an approach that was politically realistic, our amendment, I believe, will reverse the standard for amendments.

We already have 38 states that have passed state defense-of-marriage acts in the recent past specifically to stop the courts from destroying marriage at the state level. It is very likely that this [amendment] will be approved by those 38 state legislatures, and possibly many others as well because it is so deferential to the authority of state legislatures over everything revolving around benefits.

On the best arguments for the amendment-

That kids need a mom and a dad. This is a great referendum on whether kids do best with moms and dads, or whether inherently motherless and fatherless households can provide the same beneficial environment for kids.

We have a movement that is seeking to [set] a new legal standard of marriage that says half the human race is irrelevant. If you say that a gay couple is the functional equivalent of a male/female family, you are making a profoundly anti-woman statement. You are saying that women, moms, half the human race make no unique contribution to the care and nurture of the next generation.

If you flip it around and you look at a lesbian couple, same thing: a profoundly negative statement about men, dads, fathers, asserting that men bring no unique gifts to the raising and nurturing of the next generation, including boys.

At the end of the day, if the proponents of the destruction of marriage succeed in forcing this on the American people, doing an end run around democracy and public opinion, it will be a massive failure of our democratic culture and our democratic institutions because it could not be more clear where the American people stand.

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