David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, talks about why he thinks gay marriage shouldn't -- and won't -- pass during the General Assembly's lame duck session next month.
Q: You've said you feel the public was sold a bill of goods two years ago, because they said, "We just want civil unions and this is as far as we're going to go." Can you explain why you're feeling deceived now?
A: They explicitly said that we're not seeking same-sex marriage. They also promised -- this is part two of this deceit -- that there would be religious freedom, that there would be no effect on religious liberties and freedom of conscience, and that also was a bill of goods.
Q: You had an example of a bed-and-breakfast owner in Paxton. How was his religious liberty violated?
A: It happened a month after Governor Quinn signed the law. It hadn't even gone into effect yet. A lesbian couple came to the Waldorf Bed and Breakfast and said, "We want to do our civil union here," and Jim Waldorf said, "I own and operate this business for the glory of the Lord. I'm a Christian. This violates my conscience." He's being sued for discrimination.
Q: What's the difference for you between having a civil union and calling it marriage?
A: There is a difference. The word "marriage" itself linguistically means something. No one's going around trying to redefine triangles as round. There are no round triangles. There are no gay marriages. There's going to have to be a distinction between marriages that are gay marriages, or genderless, you might say, and those that are actually man and woman who produce children: procreative.
Q: So why shouldn't gays get to call their relationships marriage?
A: They don't have the right to go around and demand that we redefine a historical institution that has been understood for thousands of years as the union of one man and one woman.
Q: The civil unions bill was close. Where do you see the numbers on this one?
A: Can I preface it by saying that we object that they are again using the lame-duck session. There's something wrong when you have unaccountable lawmakers going back to Springfield and passing tax increases or other things, like civil unions or gay marriage, over the objections of the people they're supposed to represent. Any lame-duck session should require a three-fifths vote, a supermajority. If there's an urgent matter, I'm sure three-fifths would do it. If there's not an urgent matter, wait until the people's newly-elected officials get into office.
Q: Newt Gingrich made a comment that gay marriage is inevitable. Even if they don't pass it now, there's a generational shift going on that, as time goes by, it's going to be seen as so acceptable it's going to pass. What do you think of that, and is there anything you can do to turn that momentum around?
A: I understand how he could be discouraged, but the fact of the matter is, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, the nation was pro-choice. Today, it's pro-life. Nations and attitudes can change. I don't think we ever give up principles like this, because it's politically difficult. We've got to continue. There's a principle here. The question that hasn't been asked is, 'What is marriage for? Why is government involved in it in the first place?' Because government recognized that a mother and father home is the ideal environment to raise the next generation of healthy and productive children. Homosexual relationships don't offer that. It's not like government wants to discriminate against one group of people. They're upholding a particular relationship and dynamic to raise healthy, productive members of society.
Q: Are you expecting this to come up for a vote next month?
A: I don't know if I should tell you this, but I doubt if it's going to come up. I don't think they have the votes. I think they're going to fall short. Here's my philosophy, but I could be totally wrong. I'm working as if they're going to, but I believe if they call it, and it fails, they only hurt themselves with their so-called momentum. So why would you do it when you have greater numbers coming in the next session? However, here's the other side of that: Michael Madigan wants to protect some of his new members who might be in more sensitive districts from having to take this vote.