Fresh off his Piers Morgan confrontation, Ryan Anderson explains his ‘un-American’ views on marriage

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Piers Morgan says Ryan Anderson’s views are un-American.

Anderson is a 31-year-old fellow at the Heritage Foundation who believes in the traditional definition of marriage. On Tuesday night, he was invited on “Piers Morgan Live” to make his case.

Instead of appearing face-to-face at a desk with Morgan, Anderson was placed in a live audience, which was assembled to hear TV personality Suze Orman preach financial wisdom. In the center of the room, in a position of power, sat Morgan and Orman on an elevated stage.

Anderson coolly, calmly and respectfully made his case that marriage is and should remain a union between a man and a woman. Piers was theatrical, demanding that Anderson explain to Orman, who is a lesbian, “what’s wrong with her?”

For her part, Orman dismissed the Princeton graduate, who is working on his Ph.D. at Notre Dame, as ignorant.

“I also know you are very, very uneducated in how it really, really works,” she lectured.

Still, Anderson persisted, making his case and avoiding ad hominem attacks.

As the segment came to a close, Morgan unloaded on Anderson, calling him un-American for holding the same view on gay marriage that Hillary Clinton publicly held until just over a week ago and Barack Obama stood for until last year.

“The idea that you want to stop people like Elton [John] and David [Furnish] or Suze [Orman] and KT from getting married, from getting married in America in the modern era, I just find a bit offensive these days,” Morgan hectored.

“It’s not fair, it’s not tolerant, it’s not American.”

“I think there is nothing more American than debating and discussing and then voting about political issues,” Anderson told The Daily Caller, when asked what he thought about Morgan calling his views un-American.

“And Piers Morgan is taking the position that the Supreme Court should remove this discussion from democratic deliberation and kind of issue an elitist ruling from on high, much like he was doing to me [with] him up on the podium and the stage, and me down in the audience.”

With the Supreme Court hearing two cases dealing with the issue of gay marriage, Anderson is in great demand on the talk-show circuit. When he was younger, he never imagined this would be a part of his vocation.

“It’s a complete mystery to me how I ended up doing this,” he said.

Growing up in a Catholic family in Baltimore, Anderson went to a “liberal” Quaker school where he was among the only conservatives in his high school class, he said.

“Kind of from like a young age [I] got used to kind of being in a situation like the Piers Morgan interview,” he quipped.

But gay marriage was never an issue of contemplation for him because it wasn’t really an issue for America as a whole at the time, he said.

According to Anderson, that changed in 2004 when when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to prevent gay couples from marrying.

He was a music major at Princeton at the time, and president of Princeton’s pro-life club. After studying the issue, he concluded he opposed same-sex marriage.

“For me it just kept coming back to, the other side has no argument here,” he said.

“I’m for treating everyone equally under the law, but as far as the question of what marriage is, the other side was just appealing to emotion and sentimentality, and really couldn’t answer the question of why the state has an interest in the marital relationship in the first place or what makes a martial relationship different from other types of relationships.”

After college, Anderson planned to work as a teacher as part of Teach for America when an opportunity arose to work for famed Princeton professor and social conservative Robert George researching bioethics.

After working for George, he wrote two years for First Things in New York before moving to South Bend, Ind., in 2008 to pursue graduate work in political philosophy at Notre Dame.

Anderson is still slowly writing his doctoral thesis on social justice, but in 2011, he began working at the Heritage Foundation and on a book defending marriage with Robert George and Sherif Girgis. The book, “What is Marriage? A Man and Woman: A Defense,” came out in December.

Besides his dust-up with Morgan, Anderson also had a heated confrontation with CNN’s Don Lemon earlier this month. The two butted heads on whether it was correct to call gay marriage illegal, which Anderson insists it isn’t.

“The media on this question has consistently adopted the rhetoric of one side of the question and it’s an unfair rhetoric because it doesn’t accurately describe the situation,” Anderson said, explaining the spat to TheDC.

“There are relationships that are illegal. Bigamy is an example. You can go to jail for committing bigamy. That is illegal in the United States. Same-sex marriage is not illegal in the United States. You can’t go to jail for committing a same-sex marriage.”

“It’s no more kind of criminalizing something than when the state says we are going to give survivor benefits or we are going to give military benefits to XYZ and then it defines who counts as a survivor or a military member or something like that,” he continued. “Just because your particular relationship is not recognized as XYZ doesn’t mean your relationship is therefore illegal.”

Anderson opposes civil unions in addition to same-sex marriages, but says he supports contractual agreements between gay couples — or anyone else, for that matter.

“I think all Americans who aren’t married have these needs — that there is nothing special about the same-sex couple,” he said. “Any American who is unmarried needs to have someone that can inherit their stuff upon their death, needs to have someone that can visit them in the hospital and make medical decisions. I mean, eight billion things, right?”

Whatever the Supreme Court rules, the polling does not look good for Anderson in the long run. According to a recent CBS poll, 53 percent of adults now say they believe same-sex marriage should be legal. Among young adults between 18-29, the support is even greater, with 73 percent of respondents saying they believe it should be legal for gay couples to marry.

But Anderson remains optimistic.

“I look to history on this,” he said.

“This is what they said about Marxism and socialism. This is what they said about the [Equal Rights Amendment]. This is what they said about abortion. … Forty years later [after Roe v. Wade] we now see that my generation is more pro-life than my parent’s generation.”

“People aren’t just kind of like pawns to blind historical forces,” he continued.

“People respond to evidence and to reason. Maybe not Piers Morgan and Suze Orman, but other people do.”

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