An interview of Tom McClusky
of the Family Research Council
Jennifer Mesko is an associate editor at Citizenlink' -- Focus on the Family' Action`s
public information service. During early 2007-NOV, she interviewed Tom McClusky,
vice president for government affairs for the Family Research Council on
the topic of same-sex marriage (SSM).
The interview was held as the House of Representatives voted in favor of the
Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA),
and as speculation grew concerning legislation to make marriage available to all
loving committed couples in New Jersey -- both
opposite-sex and same-sex.
We include this interview and an analysis of McClusky`s points because the
interview clearly expresses the linkage between gay rights and the institution
of traditional -- or opposite-sex -- marriage, as viewed by many religious
In the following essay, the words of Mesko and McClusky were slightly pruned
to number fewer than 400 in order to stay within generally accepted copyright
The acronym SSM refers to same-sex marriage.
1. About the institution of marriage:
||Tom McClusky: Health and wealth and sexual fulfillment -- in each
of these categories, married couples always report immense advantages over
individuals who remain single or even couples who might decide to live
||Analysis: Marriage obviously benefits loving committed
couples in the three areas mentioned. Some have argued that it is
beneficial in other areas as well:|
||It drastically reduces the incidence of promiscuity.
||It reduces the potential for contracting sexually transmitted
||Married persons tend to be more active in their community and
At the close of the American civil war, marriage
was first made available to all African Americans. They benefited from
access to marriage. In the 1960s, marriage was made available to
inter-racial couples in the U.S. They also benefited from this change.
In 2004 marriage was made available to same-sex couples in
Massachusetts. Although they and their children are still denied over
1,000 federal benefits and protections that opposite-sex married couples
are automatically granted, same-sex couples in that state and their
children have benefited from SSM.
Some feel that to deny same-sex couples access to full marriage
benefits on the basis of their gender is unethical.
||T.M.: Marriage is a sacrament. It's one of the only sacraments
that two people enter into equally.|
Actually, marriage is only a sacrament in the Roman Catholic and
Orthodox wings of Christianity. In the case of Roman Catholicism it has
been a sacrament only since the 12th century. It is not regarded as such
by Protestants who generally regard only baptism and communion as
sacraments. 2 It is certainly not
considered a religious sacrament by Agnostics,
and other secularists.
2. About New Jersey:
||T.M.: [Legislation permitting SSM is]
"very possible. It's believed that the vote right now would be extremely
Analysis: This is correct. A solid majority of the people of
New Jersey favor enlarging the scope of marriage to include both
opposite-sex and same-sex couples. This majority continues to increase.
However, a vote in the legislature would not necessarily follow the
wishes of the citizens; it could go either way.
||T.M.: You've seen an eradication of the marriage benefits, by
introducing pseudo-type marriage.
Analysis: Opposite-sex couples in Massachusetts, Canada, and
five other countries have not lost any of the benefits and protections
of marriage as a result of enlarging the scope of marriage to include
same-sex couples. In the U.S., these benefits total approximately 1,400.
||T.M.: You start with something like hate crimes, where special
benefits should be given to homosexuals.
Analysis: Hate crimes give equal protections and
benefits to heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals. Neither
homosexuals or persons of other sexual orientations receive any special
||T.M.: Then you work into something like the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, which New Jersey also has. They have civil unions.
You keep sharing the benefits that are exclusively to married couples, and
eventually, marriage no longer means what it means.|
Analysis: We suspect that McClusky meant to say that
"... marriage no longer means what it has meant in the past."
That is true. The criteria for marrying has been in a state of flux for
centuries. As noted above, marriage was first changed
to allow African American couples in, then to allow mixed-race couples,
and finally, at least in Massachusetts, to allow same-sex couples. In each case, once the increased scope of marriage became
established, few people advocated a return to earlier, more restrictive
definitions of marriage. If the past is any guide, this will probably
happen in the case of SSM.
3. About the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):
||T.M.: We've seen it already affect marriage. It was ENDA-type
legislation that was passed in Massachusetts, in New Jersey, Vermont, in
California. A lot of places where you see domestic partnerships or civil
unions, it was based on court cases that involved ENDA-type legislation.
This is the backdoor to marriage.|
Analysis: The states mentioned are all jurisdictions where
the public and legislators decided to extend equal rights to persons of
all sexual orientations. This first involved hate crime legislation and
anti-employment discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and
other grounds. Provision of civil unions or domestic partnerships
followed. In the case of Massachusetts, marriage for all loving
committed couples was the final step. Once a state starts to give equal
protection and rights to persons of all sexual orientations, the final
step may well be SSM in that jurisdiction.
4. About courts enlarging the scope of marriage:
||T.M.: They're going to be emboldened now, with the more
homosexual-friendly Congress, and with state legislatures changing over. A
lot of times the only stopgap is the state legislature. Until we have a
Federal Marriage Amendment, you're going to keep on seeing judges decide how
society should be changed or not, instead of the people.|
Analysis: It is true that the only way to prevent SSM in the
U.S. is to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) that specifically
prohibits SSM. But even that would not be a permanent solution. At the
rate at which homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are
becoming accepted as three normal and natural sexual orientations, even
if a FMA were passed it would probably be repealed decades later.
It is true that court decisions can and do change society. Faced with a
conflict between a state constitution that requires individuals to be
treated equally, and state legislation that prohibits same-sex couples
from marrying, some courts will opt for the former.
5. The future of marriage in the U.S.:
||T.M.: After the Massachusetts decision [permitting SSM], you saw
a lot of people wake up, and you saw a flurry of activity in the states,
with marriage amendments being passed in a number of states. Since then,
it's started to die out a little. The American people are very supportive of
marriage being between one man and one woman. More people need to wake up;
otherwise, marriage could be lost.|
Analysis: The vast majority of Americans are definitely in
favor of allowing opposite-sex couples to marry. A
significant majority of Americans are in
favor of extending state benefits of marriage to same-sex couples in the
form of civil unions or domestic partnerships. By a 50% to 40% ratio,
American adults do not currently favor SSM. However, sizeable majorities
of high-school seniors and students entering college support SSM. The
trend is obviously towards more support for SSM and
less opposition to SSM
||T.M.: More people need to wake up; otherwise, marriage could be
Analysis: Extrapolating polling data into the future
indicates that Americans will be evenly split for and against SSM within
a few years. As present-day youth enter positions of power and
influence, SSM may gradually extend across the country on a
state-by-state basis. However, there is no danger of marriage being lost. The vast majority of young people look forward marriage in their
future. This is in spite of such anti-marriage influences such as
Britney Spears` 55 hour marriage, the TV program `Who wants to marry a
millionaire,` and the Batchelor-Bachelorette program where people get
engaged to be married after having been in each other's presence for
only a few hours.
||T.M.: There is a revitalization happening, and there are a number
of state legislators who are talking about divorce-reform laws and
covenant-marriage laws that strengthen marriage. The more positive we can do
for marriage while fighting the negative, the better.|
Analysis: Between 1997 and 2001,
covenant marriage legislation was enacted in Louisiana, Arizona and
Arkansas. These are new types of marriage that typically require
counseling before marriage. They are also more difficult to end via
divorce. Although they have been discussed in many states, the movement
seems to have been stalled; enabling legislation has only been enacted
in 6% of the states. Couples have not embraced the covenant marriage
option. "Fewer than 3 percent of couples
who marry in Louisiana and Arizona take on the extra restrictions of
marriage by covenant." 3
The vast majority choose to select "ordinary" marriage with its
lack of a requirement of pre-marital counseling and access to easy, no-fault divorce.
No-fault divorce is now available in all 50 states. According to
"Modern `no-fault` divorce came about because of widespread
disgust among lawyers, judges, (and the general public) with the
legal fictions that had become commonplace since the mid-20th
century. ... lawyers and judges, ... felt that they made oaths
meaningless and threatened to destroy the integrity of the American
justice system by making lying in court into a commonplace
Eliminating no fault divorce will be an uphill battle.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Jennifer Mesko, "Friday five: Tom McClusky," CitizenLink, 2007-NOV-09,
"Is marriage a sacrament?," GodWeb, at:
"Covenant Marriages," National Center for Policy Analysis," 2001-DEC-05, at:
"No-fault divorce," Wikipedia, 2007-NOV-06, at:
Copyright ' 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-NOV-10
Latest update: 2007-NOV-10
Author: B.A. Robinson