From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:
Several years ago I received a call from a distraught mother with a horrific story. This woman’s son, we’ll call him Davey, attended a public elementary school in Madison. He was in first grade. One day he came home from school and told his mother that his class had had a couple of visitors that day. He said two ladies had come in and talked with them.
This young boy proceeded to tell his mother that the one lady had told his class about some students who had two mommies or two daddies and that, in fact, she had married her best friend—and that the other lady with her was her best friend and who she had married. This confused six-year-old looking at his mom with genuine concern said, “Mommy, Mikey is my best friend. Does that mean I have to marry him?” Making the situation worse was that the visit and the talk took place with no parental notification let alone advance parental permission.
Now, maybe in some warped universe or in some person’s twisted thinking, this type of situation is just fine. But I believe most people would consider this to be a violation of this child’s innocence. They would believe that first graders being directly confronted with homosexuality and same-sex marriage is wrong and is harmful to the children. At a minimum it causes confusion in these young ones about marriage, gender, and even friendship. This early confusion can result in serious problems down the road.
When this student’s mom and dad brought the situation to the school officials, basically what they were told was this is school policy; and they just had to deal with it. Short of filing a lawsuit, which they did not want to do, their hands were tied. Few would deny the utter trampling of parental rights in this mess.
Some will dismiss this story because it happened in Madison. And there is some validity to that. Madison School District had just a year or so before this incident hired the one woman, paying her over $60,000 a year and likely over $70,000 by now, to advocate on behalf of students and staff who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. She also obviously had permission to go to the classrooms to do her so-called advocating. Not every Wisconsin school district had or has this position on its staff.
Last Tuesday, I sat in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, listening to two hours of oral argument regarding Wisconsin’s marriage amendment and Indiana’s marriage statute. In that courtroom I was keenly reminded that if marriage is redefined in Wisconsin, what happened to this little first-grade boy will not be restricted to Madison. It stands to be repeated in every school district in this state. Once marriage is legally redefined to include people of the same sex, there will be no legal grounds to prevent the promotion and normalization of aberrant relationships to students regardless of their age.
It was more than a little dismaying to hear the Assistant Attorneys General from Wisconsin and Indiana both flail under tough questioning from the 7th Circuit judges, especially when they asked what harm legalizing same-sex marriage would do and to whom. Tragically, neither could or would respond with any kind of definitive answer.
Maybe they weren’t aware of stories like Davey’s. Maybe they didn’t know that after marriage was redefined in Massachusetts that the father of a first-grader in public school was arrested because he refused to leave school property until he got an assurance that he would be notified if books promoting homosexuality or same-sex marriage were going to be read to his son. The school’s position was that since same-sex marriage was legal in the state, homosexual marriage was to be treated just like heterosexual marriage. Just as they would not give advance warning to parents if a book was going to be read about a heterosexual married couple, they now will not give advance warning to parents if a book is going to be read about a homosexual married couple.
This is just one specific example of two very real harms that will happen, sooner rather than later, if marriage is redefined in our state. There are others, to be sure. Attorneys arguing in defense of our marriage protection amendment should certainly be able to articulate clearly these harms that are sure to or likely to happen should marriage be redefined.
But it’s not just attorneys who must be prepared to answer this question. Anyone who understands the foundational role one-man/one-woman marriage plays in our society or any society must also be able to relate the harms that will happen—whether to innocent first-grade boys and girls or to the entire culture—if marriage is redefined. We must all become knowledgeable, winsome, articulate defenders of marriage if we are serious about safeguarding children and the institution of marriage as the foundation of society.