successful self published author. one of the comments she made with this. i worked with publishers and the best people in the industry. these people are repositories about works in the industry, likes and dislikes and you need that vibrant community. and it made me think that this is a vibrant community that's coming in that is making this a great industry and something i'm not only proud to teach about, but that i'm proud to work with and. thank you are very much for the contributions i know you're going to make to everybody in this room. thanks a lot. [applause] >> you're watching booktv, nonnext authors and book withs every weekend -- nonfiction authors and books every weekend
on c-span2. >> starting now on booktv, there the 20th annual eagle forum's collegiate summit, ryan randerson discusses his -- ryan anderson discusses his book, "what is marriage." >> ryan anderson who researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty here at the hear taj town -- heritage foundation. he focuses on economic thought, health care, education and has expertise in natural law theory. he has co-authored a book, "what is marriage: man a woman, a dissent." so please welcome ryan ander anderson. [applause] >> all the speakers have been so lined up.
>> you ryan? >> i am. >> your moment is here. you're on. >> okay. sorry i'm a little late. >> that's okay. how long do i have? >> 15 minutes of talk, 15 minutes of q and a. >> perfect. that's what i prepared for. sorry i'm running a little late, we were having a meeting that ran a little over. i'm going to talk about marriage in terms of what just happened with the supreme court. and so i'll do five minutes each on what marriage is, why marriage matters, consequences of redefining marriage and then i'll close with where we go given what the court has said. marriage is based on the fact that men and women are distint and complementary, reproduction
requires a man and a woman, the reality that children deserve a mother and a father. when a baby is born with, a mother will always with close -- be close by. that's a fact of biology. the question is will a father be close by, and if so, for how long? part of this reality of marriage is there's no such thing as participating in the -- parent anything the abstract. men and women bring different and distinct gifts to the participanting enterprise -- parenting enterprise. if a parent is in the living room wrestling with their son, teaching him to be masculine without being violent, to be aggressive without pulling hair or biting or gouging out eyes, which parent is most likely engaged in this behavior? and most of you are saying that's the father. and if there's someone who when you scrape a knee is most likely to give you a kiss and put a
band-aid on it, it's most likely the mother. these are stereotypes, but men and women interact with children in distinct ways. why does this heart as far -- matter as far as policy goes? be we argue that government's in the marriage business not because it cares about the love lives of concepting adults. if marriage was just about the romantic feelings, we could get government out of the marriage business. the reason that government's in the bedroom is because the union of a man and a woman can produce children. children need 18 years on average of intense care to turn out to be law-abiding members of society. what's the least intrusive way government the make sure they turn into law-abiding citizens? we can encourage men and women to commit to each other as husbands and wives to be mother
and father. so there's a limiting principle in government. government's in the marriage business to actually limit what it does itself. marriage is kind of -- it's not just a personal relationship, but it's a relationship that benefits the common good in a way that no other relationship does. we argue that marriage is society's least restrictive, least coercive way of insuring this. here is where i normally cite president obama. let me see if i actually have that quote in my folder handy. here we go. this is president obama speaking back in 2008 in a speech he gave on fatherhood. he wrote: we know the statistics that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. they're more likely to have behavioral problems or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves, and the foundations of our community are weaker because of it. we have two generations of evidence on the importance of
children being raised by their biological mother and father, and five times more likely to commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school are just the beginning of what the negative outcomes are. in this case, growing up without a father. and so there's a reason why the state tries to promote marriage. what we saw was the breakdown of the marriage culture during the '60s, '70s and '80s. this is when child poverty increase, the welfare state increases, it's when social mobility decreased. so everything that you can care about if you're a limited government conservative and you care about social justice, if you care about both liberty and you care about poverty is better served by getting marriage right, by having a healthy marriage culture. when this doesn't happen, a liberal proposes a big government solution to pick up the pieces. they'll suggest -- look at the life of julia video. there's no husband, there's no father. but what you have is the government trying to fulfill the
role of the father or the boyfriend or the husband. which leads into the third part of in this talk, what are the consequences of redefining marriage. and i'll say the first thing right up at the front is you can't redefine marriage to say that fathers are optional while insisting that fathers are essential. the law functions as a teacher, and if you redefine marriage to make it a genderless institution, you're saying two moms or two dads is the same thing as a how many and a dad. what's the teaching function, what would be the effect of the this law. what we saw with no-fault divorce, to give you a historical parallel, was the law taught something. up until the introduction of no-fault divorce you would cite faults, and the three historical conditions, abuse, abandonment and adultery. you would say my spowz is abusing me, my spouse has committed adultery. the presumption, the assumption was that marriage was a permanent relationship. as a result, prior to the
introduction of no-fault divorce, we had divorce rates that were in single digits. after the introduction, divorce rates reached almost 50%. the law taught that marriage need not be be permanent, that it can be a temporary relationship, and the consequences of this were horrendous, especially for children. divorce does not serve the interests of children. so redefining marriage in this direction is similar enough in this that it makes it more about the desires of adults than the needs of children, more about the row romantic live of adultsn the family life that best serves this reproductive purpose. so that's first, is that redefining marriage takes it away from a child-centric relationship into an adult-centric one, and it makes mothers and fathers, men and women interchangeable. the second to that, no reason why the redefinition of marriage would stop here. this came out during oral arguments when an obama appointee, justice sotomayor, asked the attorney in favor of
same-sex marriage, he said if justice and equality define that we redefine marriage to include a same-sex couple, why not to include a thruple? i discovered when i was doing research for the book is a three-person couple. we came across this term in new york magazine, and they were doing a profile on a thruple that lives in brooklyn. they share an apartment, this dog, they cook breakfast and dinner for each other, and there are three people. and the attorney when sotomayor asked didn't have a persuasive response at all. he started talking about tradition and history. you're going to find a much stronger tradition and history for the male-female aspect of marriage. so once you say that the male-female aspect of marriage is irrational and arbitrary, what's so magical about the number two? because the way that we arrived at monogamy in western law, the
way we got it into american marriage law was that it was one man and one woman. because only one man and one woman can unite in the teach of act that produces new life. every new life has exactly one mother and one father, and marriage is the relationship that unifies those people and those relationships. but once you sever the connection from the male-female part, what's left ability the number two? why are twosomes magical in a way that others aren't? the same question can then be asked about permanency, which we've already seen with no-fault divorce, but also with sexual exclusivity. marriage has been a sexually-exclusive relationship. you only slept with your spouse. you cheated on your spouse if you slept with someone other than your spouse. if marriage is mainly about the romantic lives of consenting adults and has nothing to do with children or childbearing, why shouldn't you sleep with someone other than your spouse provided your spouse consents?
so several of the articles that have been published have said this is something that straight people can learn from gay relationships, the virtues of extramarital affairs provided there's no coercion and there's no deceit. but whatever the morality of multipersonal unions, you know, multiperson relationships, sexually-open relationships or temporary sexual relationships, the public policy purpose will be disastrous because the public policy aspect is to get men to have as few be sexual partners as possible and to have those relationships lost as long as possible. why is this the public policy interest in marriage? because for every additional sexual partner i have and every short lived relationship i have, i increase the likelihood that i create a towerless child, that -- fatherless child, that i create fragmented families. so the government says try to get men to commit to women and then stay with that woman for the rest of their lives. it's a wacky idea now, but it's
served humanity well throughout history because every child has a relationship with their mother and their father. the last consequence that i'll mention has to do with religious liberty. we've already seen in massachusetts, in illinois and right here in washington, d.c. that christian-run adoption agencies have been forced out of the adoption business. the reason why that they applied nondiscrimination law against these groups. these groups said we have orphans in our care, we want to find them married moms and dads, and the government said this is unjust discrimination, and we won't give you an adoption license. it had nothing to do with funding. it had nothing to do with you can't take government money and discriminate. in this case it was about licensure, and you can't run an adoption agency without a license. you have to be accredited by the regulators. the agencies argued, look, we have social science on our side that said children do best with
a mom and a dad, and we have this thing called the first amendment. and the government in all three jurisdictions said we don't care. if you want to understand how the current administration thinks about religious liberty, just think how they view the hhs mandate. religious liberty only applies in a house of worship on sunday morning. freedom of worship has replaced a robust conception of religious liberty. hobby lobby got an injunction today granting them relief, so we're winning in the court of law because the administration really doesn't have a leg to stand on with this respect. but that's not going to mean that they won't attempt to do this with respect to marriage. if you read through justice kennedy's opinion, the rhetoric used in there that anyone who thinks that marriage is the union of a man and woman is motivated just out of animus, out of bigotry, and the implications for this, what does this mean for the evangelical flowers who doesn't want to provide flowers for the same-sex
marriage? for the cake baker, the photographer, for the innkeeper? think about how many different ways business and industry intersect with wedding ceremonies or marriages in general. will religious, will the rights of conscience for those individuals be respected by the government? and that's an open question at this point. so with that, i'll turn to the decisions and just give a brief overview of what happened, i guess, about a month ago with the supreme court. on proposition 8, they punted. they said that the citizens who voted twice in the state of california to define marriage didn't have standing to defend their law. the only reason they could do this was because the governor instructed the attorney general not to defend that law when it was challenged. so it really, it's the most disconcerting aspect of that decision, what it implies for democratic self-government. you have a case where the state supreme court redefined marriage in the state of california, so
the citizens went back to the ballot box and voted for a constitutional amendment. this was then challenged in federal court, and the federal court said your constitutional amendment violates the constitution. when the citizens tried to defend their constitutional amendment because their governor and attorney general wouldn't and they defended it all the way up to the supreme court be, the supreme court said, we're sorry, you don't have standing. that's just really a after the city as far as democratic self-government goes. on the defense of marriage act case, the supreme court said that president clinton, 85 senates and a couple hundred members of the house of representatives only acted out of animus and hatred and bigotry when they passed the defense of marriage act to have a uniform federal definition of marriage for federal law. it left all 50 states free to define marriage for state laws in state policies. the court said the only reason congress did this was because they don't like gay people. it's not true.
it hasn't helped civility. if we're trying to, like, have a democratic debate that's civil about the future of marriage, it doesn't help by labeling your opponents bigots. justice scalia characterized the opinion as saying scwus diskennedy had called people who support be marriage enemies of the human race. that was scalia's phrase. so that certainly doesn't bode well for the future. the holding in the case, the precedent that it sets is state marriage laws remain constitutional. the 50 states remain free to define marriage how they choose, but the federal government has to treat all state-recognized marriages equally. if a state redefines marriage, the feds have to recognize that. that's the holding. the rhetoric of the opinion suggests that the court will strike down state marriage laws if given the opportunity. his exact phrase was something along the lines of this court will try to do whatever it thinks it can get away with.
so where that leaves the democratic debate is to have citizens make it clear to the court that the court won't get away with it, to show that citizens still care about marriage, about how it's defined and about the centrality that it plays in limiting government and promoting social mobility and protecting the interests of children. so it's now exactly 4:15, so i stuck right to time, and i imagine we're going to do questions? >> yes. fabulous. anybody here have some questions? >> and i'll be going to middle tennessee state university in the fall, and coming from the basis that governments exist to punish the violations of fundamental rights to life, liberty and property, i'm wondering where you see government's responsibility to intervene, you might say, in marriage and to define it as one man and one woman? >> sure. i mean, i think here what the government's doing, it's vindicating the rights of children to relationship with the man and the woman who created the child, and the
government's doing it in the least restrictive and least coercive way possible. the government could force men and women to raise their kids, before they could encourage them to do so. the government's chosen to encourage them. they hold up an ideal. so government recognizes the marital relationship as the union of a husband and wife to encourage men and women to commit to each other and then take responsibility for their children. and it does this without criminalizing anything. so in all 50 states two people of the same sex can live with each other, love each other, go be to a liberal church and have a wedding ceremony performed, they can work for a progressive company if the church and the business want to. what's really at stake now is will the government redefine marriage and then give the coercive law to force all citizens in all religious communities except on sunday morning and all businesses to treat a same-sex relationship as if it's a marriage even one with individuals in those religious communities who think otherwise.
so i think the coercive aspect of the law here actually works in the exact opposite direction of the many libertarians frequently suggest. and i think the limited government interest cuts the other way. the limited government interest here is when men and women don't commit to each other and raise their children, government grows. we have evidence over the past 40 years that almost every social ill that the police state tries to combat can be directly traced to the breakdown in the family, including a giant tax burden. we cite in our book some of the fiscal costs of the breakdown of the family in just this terms of how much of the welfare state that we're paying for every other friday out of our paycheck as a result of government programs that try to replace the family. >> i think there's a question over here. >> hi. i go the -- [inaudible] high school. like you said with debating if an argument -- in an argument
with a liberal most of the time when you state your opinion or you state facts, you're automatically looked at as a bigot. and a lot of us have had experiences in school where you state your opinion, and you're automatically looked at as someone who hates homosexuals or the people that are -- i mean, really you hate, you're against homosexuality. you're not, you don't hate homosexuals. so what advice do you give to us conservatives who want to debate with a liberal without automatically being looked at as a bigot or a hateful person? >> be sure. yeah. that is the most challenging question for us. you know, just as individuals. because what we want -- i mean, this is what i wallet. i don't want to speak for everyone, but what i want to do is exrest the fact that it is a true statement that historically xays and lesbians have been
mistreated. marriage is not one of those examples though. so it is true that we have a history this which gay and lesbian americans have been marginalized. marriage laws were not devised to marginalize gays and lesbians. so how do we communicate that? the reason that marriage has existed for millennia, jews, christians and muslims, they've all been able to agree about marriage, and their intention wasn't to marginalize g be ays and lesbians, it was to make sure children have how manies and dads. without saying that when you're at a party and someone dumps a beer on a gay classmate, if you want to condemn that, that's an anti-gay act, that's unacceptable. but marriage laws aren't anti-gay, how do we communicate that? i think part of it is speaking out when you do actually see actual acts of anti-gay liberty. real instances of bigotry, it would give us more credibility
when we speak out about marriage. i also think it's just asking your liberal friend, okay, so what do you think marriage is? you know, we titled our law review article and our book "what is marriage" because that's the question that the other side refuses to answer. the other side will say i'm in favor of marriage equality, and i always reply all of us are in favor of marriage equality. the question is, what is a marriage? and until you answer that question, you don't know if any given marriage law is treating marriages equally or unequally. because every marriage law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn't. currently it's between twosomes and threesomes and foursomes. so is it treating them unequally? ask the liberal to answer that question. why is it marriage law is no knob mouse? -- no nothing house? don't let them say history and tradition.
you can give a will be why it's between a man and a woman, why the state cares about that type of relationship and why that type of religious should be monogamous. ask them, you know, why should three guys who are living together not be viewed as a marriage under your conception of what a marriage is. turn the tables, make them answer the question. and i think most of them haven't actually thought that seriously about marriage. they're very concerned with lgbt rights, but they're not really that concerned about marriage and why it matters and what it is and why government's even in the marriage wiz in the first place. >> ryan, i think theyty, they would say marriage is love. >> right. >> so could you address marriage is love? >> three people can love each other, and you can love each oh while also sleeping with other people, and you can love each other for a temporary time period. i love lots of people that i'm not married to, right? [laughter] so the idea is that marital love is a distinct type of love, so
what distinguishes majority until love from this amorphous love equals love, right? and i think one of the biggest downsides of just equating marriage with love and this kind of ambiguous sense is that it actually belittles other forms of serious human relationship. we used to have a much richer tradition of friendship than we do. we now just view marriage as the most intention relationship that you can have in life and everything else as lesser forms. so as a result, if you're not married, it means you haven't yet reached the peak of human existence, and it makes your friendships seem less valuable. when you read through diaries and journals from prior parts of history, you see lots of people have really intense friendships that they care about, but they never confuse those relationships with their marriage. they could have a distinction because marriage was about uniting with someone of the opposite sex so as to create a family, to provide children with a mom and a dad, to form that type of unit, but you might have
a really intense relationship with someone else that's centered on something else. maybe it's sports, especially for guys. maybe it's a book club. who knows what it is. but you don't have to find a spouse who's also the person you go to the gym with and the perp that you read poetry to. we tend to kind of try to put all the of our eggs in one basket in that sense when we say marriage is just about love in this ambiguous sense. >> okay. a question down here. yes, sir. >> thank you for coming, mr. anderson. what do you say in regards to, like, i hear your arguments, i've heard them before, and i think they're really good arguments about, like, there are solid things, solid truths that we have to refer to, but so many people today as i try to make an argument to them don't even believe -- believe truth is just what you want it to be and just what you decide it to be, it's just completely capricious and arbitrary. it's like talking to a brick
wall trying to convince somebody of truth if they don't believe there is truth. >> yes. so you put your finger on the problem with relativism and subjectivism. but i think most people who say that exlicitly implicitly reject it. so you say the holocaust was wrong, but what if hitler says it wasn't wrong? just take obvious examples, you know? i think slavery's wrong, but who am i to impose my values on other people, right? and lincoln is really good, if you read through the lincoln/douglass debates, steven douglas wants to say i think we should just put it for a vote, and if people vote in favor of it, the territories will be slave territories, and lincoln says to take that position is already to take a position because we only put things like that to vote if we think they're morally acceptable. if you thought slavery was wrong, you'd say you're against slavery. it's the same thing that happens
in the abortion debate right now. if you think you're pro-choice, answer the question which choice are you in favor of? so i think the question of who are you to impose your values on me or there is no such thing as truth ultimately becomes self-refuting if you ask that person to defend some of the things they're interested in. i'm finishing up my dissertation at the university of notre dame, and when i was teaching undergraduates, i said how many of you would object if i just graded your papers based on how much i like you? some of the papers are better than other papers, and you should be grading us according to the merit of our papers. so i think some of the relativism immediately crumbles once their skin's in the game. oh, you say you own that house, but i'm going to take et because there's so such thing as private property. it's nice in the abstract, but when it's your chicken that's being taken, you start caring about these things. so that's one way or doing it. i think the other way is
sometimes you just have to say you can't reason with people who won't respond to reason. and so one thing i think conservatives in general need to do is be better at telling stories, painting pictures and appealing to emotion. liberals are great at bringing up the sob is story that tugs on your heartstrings to justify a bad policy. so they can point to the guy that's getting the corn subsidy and say, oh, well, if you cut the subsidy, this farmer is going to go out of business, and then everyone's, oh, we can't cut the subsidy. when as a result, everyone else pays a consequence, right? we're all drinking soda that has corn syrup in it instead of sugar when corn was never intended to be a sweetener. we have sugar tariffs and and corn subsidies. why do we do that? to try to gin up the economy here, right? but anyway, it's easy to tell the story about the farmer. it's harder to explain why we're all, you know, suffering just a little bit because of a bad trade and tax policy.
>> there's one more question down here. yes, sir. >> hi, i'm spencer, and i go to the college of william and mary. you briefly touched on the abortion issue, and i think there's been a point many that debate where we've seen some of the atrocities in the clinic in philadelphia, we've seen even young people sort of the tide is turning, and the pro-life position is coming back after being down in the low popularity, and my question is, what do you think will be the core responding -- corresponding point in the marriage issue? right now it's not going away. is it going to be polygamy, incest, open marriage, temporary marriages? i mean, is it just fatherlessness? what's the point where the tide turns? >> that's a great question, and i think there are a couple of possible things. i think one is that the sonogram has clearly helped the pro-life movement. when you say abortion stops at a beating heart and you can actually see the heartbeating
that stops, that's very powerful. it's no longer a clump of cells. it's a human being. so what is the equivalent of the sonogram? i think there's a potential for social science to be this. we have some prelim their social science on what it's like to grow up with two moms or two dads, and it's not as growing up with both a mom and a dad. i think personal stories. bobby lopez has written some articles for public discourse, the first one was titled growing up with two moms: the untold child's story, i think it was. so here's a guy who grew up with two moms. he loves his lesbian mothers, but he recognizes he was lacking something, he was lacking a father. ..