My holiday vacation has freed up time for me to catch up on a substantial backlog of blog topics. Better late than never! --Ahab
As discussed in a prior post, the World Congress of Families VI took place on May 25-27, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. The symposium regularly brings together far-right activists from around the world to discuss abortion, homosexuality, and demographic winter. Among the WCF's partners are American Religious Right groups such as the American Family Association, AFTAH, the Alliance Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family. (See congresomundial[dot]es/wcf/wcf-partners/) Progressive observers who are concerned about how the American Religious Right networks with its international counterparts should pay close attention to World Congress of Families gatherings, as it offers a glimpse of the Religious Right's ideology and strategy.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown spoke at the World Congress of Families VI, encouraging anti-gay activists worldwide to resist same-sex marriage. In a video recording of his talk, Brown depicted the fight against LGBTQ equality as the struggle of sensible, ordinary people rather than that of "elites" who have supposedly abandoned marriage. Brown imagined campaigns against same-sex marriage as "counter-insurgency" efforts that require effective messages, funds, and "muscle" (volunteers) to be effective.
At the 4:41 mark of the video, Brown claims that western "elites" have "abandoned marriage", but that the ordinary people still understand the merits of restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
"The elites throughout the western world have abandoned marriage. This is a reality. The people, however, their intuition, their conscience, even those that aren't particularly religious still understand this simple truth that there's unique and special about the union of one man and one woman. They may not believe that because of religious reasons. It may just be because their reason tells them this. But if we can speak to their hearts, we can still win the marriage issue."At the 5:16 mark, Brown described campaigns against same-sex marriage as a "counter-insurgency", outlining NOM's strategy for opposing LGBTQ rights.
"There are three key components to any counter-insurgency. And elections for marriage are an example of a counter-insurgency. I spent a lot of time discussing this with a friend who was a general who fought in counter-insurgency, and we came to this agreement. And that is, in order to win elections, we need three primary things. We need message, money, and muscle. In each of the campaigns that I've outlined, a lot of money was spent on researching what messages worked with the people of each of these states. The messages were not always the same. Now we know that the truth is on our side. We know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. We know that because of our faith, bit pure reason allows us to get to this."At the 6:13 mark, Brown claimed that a multitude of cultures uphold marriage as a monogamous, opposite-sex union, oblivious to the many different ways that marriage has been defined by cultures throughout history. He offered legitimacy to opposite-sex marriage as a setting for reproduction, ignoring the fact that many opposite-sex couples choose not to have children, and many same-sex couples successfully raise biological and adopted children.
"Why do people in very different cultures over the span of eons of history all agree that there's unique and special about a man and a woman? Cultures that don't have modern nation-states still regulate the union of a man and a woman and dictate that there's something unique and special about it. Well, there are three reasons. One, relationships between men and women make babies. It's pretty simple. Two, that society needs babies. Those societies which don't have babies are not part of those societies that anthropologists can go and research and be one of the many societies that we know much about. This is fairly simple. Number three sounds simple but is actually profound, and that is that when a baby is born, there is bound to be a mother present. However, marriage is that institution by which men and fathers are connected to any children that are born out of that relationship. Same-sex marriage, any attempt to redefine marriage, most profoundly changes and alters the bond between fathers and any children that might be born. So without even getting into the reality that God has dictated in scripture that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, we can know there there is something unique a special."Brian Brown's rhetoric should not surprise us, as it contains the same flawed arguments against marriage equality that we're used to hearing from the Religious Right. However, we should take note of his emphasis on reproduction, particularly at a conference that warns of alleged demographic winter and frowns upon abortion and family planning. Brown's focus on reproduction as the legitimizing trait of opposite-sex marriage fits neatly into the World Council of Family's worldview, in which reproduction is championed and retrograde attitudes about marriage and sexuality are celebrated.
Also, Brown's three-pronged campaign strategy of "message, money, and muscle" is nothing new or remarkable, as most social change campaigns rely on messaging, funding, and volunteer labor. However, the recent successes of the LGBTQ rights movement suggest that NOM's strategy is not unbeatable, and that the organization may want to reconsider its stance.
(Hat tip to Good As You)