Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Why the change of public opinion on same-sex marriage?

Published: Sunday, April 13 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

But, personally, I draw the line with formal marriage, both for practical and religious reasons. Marriage isn’t just about two people falling in love and wanting support and fulfillment in each other — although that’s an important part. Traditionally, for centuries, marriage has been inextricably associated with family, with bearing and raising children, creating a little foundational unit of society which, if it functions well, then all of society does well.

Heaven knows that family is hard to do well, even in the best of circumstances. No one does family perfectly, and most traditional families struggle in one way or another, and single mothers and fathers struggle even more.

So my question to my gay friends is, can you do family? Can you do it well? Can you remain devoted to each other, can you raise children and teach them proper values and be there to wipe runny noses and change dirty diapers and deal with rebellious teens and teach responsibility and values and hard work and homework and self-confidence, and be wonderful grandparents — and so forth?

I have no doubt that many of you can, and some of you are already doing it.

But it’s a grand, untested, social experiment because it really hasn’t been done broadly, and we’re messing here with the foundational unit of society. If it doesn’t work out, then the family will further erode and society will suffer.

Traditional marriage and traditional families have been society’s bedrock. I believe the judicial and political stars are aligned, and we’re about to try something different. I really hope it works out, but it will be decades before we know.

What are the political ramifications for Republicans and Democrats, especially in Utah?

Pignanelli: This issue is nitroglycerin for both parties. Democrats must be careful — a majority of Utahns support civil unions, but not same-sex marriages. Sympathy for gay couples seeking wedding vows is growing every day with younger Mormons. So Republicans must also exercise caution.

Webb: Most Utahns will continue to support traditional marriage, but most won’t be anti-gay. As courts and legislative branches across the country recognize same-sex marriage, government will no longer be the enforcer of traditional marriage. Some churches may opt to get out of the marriage business, so that civil marriage becomes a secular, government event.

Last week, the CEO of a high-tech company was ousted because he supported California’s 2008 Proposition 8 supporting traditional marriage. Is this a harbinger of things to come?

Pignanelli: Even liberals decried this blemish on free speech. But poor messaging by prominent traditionalists generated enough animosity that "enlightened progressive” members can exercise intolerance toward those with differing opinions.

Webb: If gay activists want tolerance, they need to practice it. They damaged their own cause by being too militant and attacking a good person who didn’t agree with them.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D’Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com

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