“Dogs don’t bark at parked cars”

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
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Dogs don’t bark at parked cars.

That’s some of the wisdom my Dad taught me. I thought of that saying when I read the attacks on Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. There’s a concerted effort to marginalize Tony and others who think marriage is important. In doing so, the left wants to shut out millions of Americans at the grassroots. But Mr. Perkins never runs from a fight. He’s out in front, leading. And all the dogs are barking at him.

Recently, Mr. Perkins was attacked as a big government backer. Apparently, if you try to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman, that is supposed to make you an advocate of big government.

Perkins has been fighting for tax cuts and less spending for twenty years. He wants the federal government to stop interfering with the family, stop intruding into small businesses, and stop usurping state and local authority. How does that make him an advocate for big government?

Some critics think that when you stand up for marriage, that makes you an ally of big government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The wedding march began through the states in Hawaii. The Aloha State was America’s first majority non-white, majority non-Christian state, and Hawaii voters strongly backed a referendum that prevented the state’s Supreme Court from overturning marriage.

Conservative leaders have teamed up with the people against liberal powers in state after state. All too often, the top dogs of both parties opposed these people’s initiatives, or else hung back.

These state and local groups have racked up popular victories for marriage in 31 states. Wherever the marriage issue appears on the ballot, the people say it loud, say it proud: Marriage is between one man and one woman.

There are no marriage questions on the state ballots this year. Liberal journalists are trying to say the movement has lost steam. What? Is that why liberals are afraid to let the issue come to a vote in Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York?

Judges on the Iowa Supreme Court are hanging onto their hats and their seats, facing voter wrath because they decided to overturn marriage — and let the people’s voice be silenced.

Thirty-eight million Americans have voted to protect marriage. Marriage is more popular than any other issue on the conservative agenda. Marriage wins in liberal states, like Hawaii and Wisconsin, in conservative states like Kansas and Utah, and in middle-of-the-road states like Virginia and Ohio.

Marriage is no “wedge” issue. Some journalists like to call it that, as if it’s not important. But marriage is a bridge issue. Marriage wins among blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and whites.

Marriage appeals to non-college educated as well as to blue collar workers. It’s a way of bringing those elusive Reagan Democrats back into the fold.

In California this year, we may see a Republican win the state house and another go to the Senate. But it’s been more than twenty years since Republicans carried the Golden State for president. While John McCain was going down to a crushing defeat in California in 2008, Proposition 8, the Marriage Protection Amendment, was cruising to victory.

We have heard a lot about compassionate conservatism. And we’ve heard accusations that conservatives are “downright mean.” Well, defending marriage is the most compassionate thing conservatives can do.

Even some liberals recognize this. Bill Galston once worked for Bill Clinton. He says if a young couple will just finish high school, avoid having children out of wedlock, and marry, the chances are only 4% they will ever live in poverty.

Big government feeds on the breakdown of marriage. Our prisons are filling up with fatherless young men. What Bill Bennett wisely called the Broken Hearth fuels demands for more money for extra helpers in schools, for food stamps, for expanded medical coverage — all these needs are exacerbated by the breakdown of marriage.

Today, tragically, nearly 40% of our children are born out-of-wedlock. And big government consumes nearly 40% of our Gross Domestic Product.

I don’t believe the 40/40 link is imaginary.

If you want smaller government, lower taxes, and a return to constitutional principles, the fastest way to do that is to defend marriage, empower the family, and show Americans real compassion.

Ken Blackwell is a visiting professor with Liberty University School of Law and senior fellow with the Family Research Council. He is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.