Dear Governor Sam Brownback,
Way to go on having such a tech-savvy staff! It must be nice to have people who are able to instantaneously inform you every time a teenager says that you suck on Twitter. They must be really busy. Congratulations on being able to afford such highly educated personnel in this difficult economy – unless they are (as I strongly suspect) all a bunch of bridge trolls that you pay in billy goats.
The reason that I’m writing you today is that I’m concerned that you may have been misinformed about some of the “facts” you consistently cite re: marriage. In 2007 at the UNH Presidential Debate you said, “In countries that have redefined marriage, where they’ve said, OK, it’s not just a man and a woman, it can be two men, two women, the marriage rates in those countries have plummeted to where you have counties now in northern Europe where 80% of the first-born children are born out of wedlock.” There are so many problems with this argument, it’s difficult to figure out where to start. First, sir, marriage rates in Northern Europe have been decreasing steadily since the late 1960’s, well before legislation was enacted that allowed gay marriage. In fact, Norway (one of the two countries that actually does have an out-of-wedlock birth rate of 80+% ) did not have legalized gay marriage until 2009 – TWO YEARS AFTER YOU CITED YOUR STATISTIC. I question how gay marriage could have had anything to do with the overall decline in marriages when said decline predated gay marriage by (in many cases) 40 years. In fact, legitimate researchers suggest that the reason for the decline in marriage is threefold. First, there has been an increased tendency towards individualism. Second, there has been an increase in cohabitation as a substitute for marriage. Third, marriages are being postponed until later in life. Please note that neither the word gay nor any of its many synonyms were used in the last three sentences. Also, it should be noted that in Northern European countries over the same time period, the divorce rate has consistently increased on a yearly basis. In other words, Governor, protecting the institution of marriage in no way guarantees that children will be raised in a two parent home. Marriage also does not necessarily imply that children will receive quality care.
At this point, you’re probably questioning (as I was when I read your citations about Northern Europe), what Northern Europe has to do with trending in the United States. The answer is interesting. In fact, Governor, marriage rates in the United States have been decreasing since the late 1960’s while divorce rates are on the rise – paralleling the trends in Northern Europe. But, WAIT, gay marriage is not federally sanctified in the United States – so how could this be the case? Could it be because homosexuals are not (and cannot be) responsible for the destabilization of the institution of marriage? Problematic, huh?
Additionally, sir, the only real reason to argue that marriage should only apply to a man and a woman rests on a platform that suggests that you don’t care too much about the emotional and spiritual commitment implied by the act. If the institution of marriage was solely created in order to care for the fruits of said union, then marriage itself would be unnecessary if either person who wishes to get married proves to be (or becomes at any point) infertile. It would also make sense if marriages were dissolved when children reach adulthood and no longer live within the confines of the two-parent home. I don’t think it would appeal to your constituency at large if you actually followed your argument to its logical conclusion. “Sorry, Grandma,” you could say, “I know you and Gramps have had 50 years of wedded bliss, but you’re kind of over the hump fertility-wise so let’s just end this thing.” Seems pretty ludicrous, doesn’t it? Maybe marriage is about more than children and fertility. Maybe it’s about commitment and love – ideals that gay people have just as much ability to embody as any other human being.
You have a responsibility as a public official to at least get your facts right. When you’re incorrect, make terrible arguments, appeal to the lowest common emotional denominator, and willfully ignore valuable information because it doesn’t bolster your position, you make the state you represent look stupid. It falls on you, and on people in your position, the be better (kinder, more humane, possessed of better judgment, and more skilled) than the rest of us. That is WHY we elect you – that is why we ultimately put our trust in government. When you fail, (and you, sir, have failed willingly and for a petty agenda) you betray the very tenets of a democracy you profess to hold so dear. Sorry, Sam, but Emma Sullivan was right – you do suck.
RCS Press Representative