04/28/2004 - Speakers:
Gerard V. Bradley, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame; filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas (2003), the Texas anti-sodomy law case
Andrew Sullivan, senior editor and former editor at The New Republic; columnist for Time; Washington correspondent for the Sunday Times of London; author of Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality; editor of Same-Sex Marriage, Pro and Con; and blogger at AndrewSullivan.com
E.J. Dionne, Co-Chair, the Pew Forum, and Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution
LUIS LUGO: Good morning and thank you all for coming. My name is Luis Lugo, and I am the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Forum is a nonpartisan organization and we do not take positions on policy debates. Before we get started, I have just a small little favor to ask of you: Please turn off your cell phones or put them on vibrator mode if you must have them on. Thank you.
It is my pleasure to welcome you this morning to a timely discussion that will clearly violate one of Emily Post's most important rules of etiquette: "In polite company one should not talk about religion, politics or sex." Today, we're going to talk about all three of them at the same time, but we'll seek to honor Emily Post by maintaining the Forum's trademark tone of civility.
We're here to discuss important religious and political issues surrounding the question of same-sex marriage. As I'm sure you're aware, barring unforeseen changes on May 17th, less than three weeks from today, Massachusetts will become the first state in the union to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court requiring the state to provide such licenses came down in November of last year, as I'm sure you'll recall, and it sparked a national firestorm of debate. That included congressional and presidential discussion of a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
As you know, this issue has now been joined in states throughout the country. Fortunately for us, a Pew-funded sister project, Stateline.org, has been following the story closely across the country. To help you sort things out we have included Stateline's hot off the press report "State of Marriage Laws in the States" in the packet you received this morning. This is from just a couple of days ago, a 50 state run down on marriage – on gay marriage laws. I encourage you to read that and I wanted to thank Gene Gibbons, the managing editor of Stateline.org, for making this timely and very helpful scorecard available to us.
It probably will not come as a surprise to you that people who are very religiously committed are more strongly opposed to gay marriage than any other segment of American society. According to another sister project, the Pew Research Center, nearly 80 percent of those who attend religious services at least once a week oppose gay marriage, and almost 60 percent of them oppose same-sex civil unions. On the other side of the religious divide, only 46 percent of those who seldom or never go to religious services oppose same-sex marriage, and only 32 percent oppose legalizing same-sex civil unions.
What might be a bit more surprising to you, perhaps, is how this issue unifies these two groups. They are, as a matter of fact, more interested in this topic than are moderately religious people. Some 68 percent of people who attend religious services at least once a week and 64 percent of secular Americans follow this issue very closely. That's about 10 percentage points higher than those who are moderately religious.
Now, all of these numbers say one thing very clearly: A lot of people out there are very interested in the questions we'll be discussing this morning.
We are very privileged to have with us two speakers who have thought and written extensively about these questions and who have graciously agreed to jumpstart the conversation for us.
So without further ado, I'm going to hand things over to my good colleague E.J. Dionne who will be introducing the speakers and moderating the discussion this morning. E.J., as many of you know, is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist for The Washington Post, a professor at Georgetown University and co-chair of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Read the transcript The Ties That Divide: A Conversation on Gay Marriage with Andrew Sullivan and Gerard Bradley on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.