Presidential candidates at last week’s Democratic Party forum on LGBTQ issues clearly indicated that Americans who believe there are two sexes and that marriage is the union of a man and a woman are out of step with the times, uninformed bigots clinging bitterly to their faith.

If you missed the town hall, you weren’t alone. Sponsored by CNN and the Human Rights Campaign, the largest and most powerful LGBT advocacy group in the U. S., the event averaged under 1.1 million viewers over the course of the evening, an unimpressive number.  

Despite the low numbers, the forum was very important, and not simply because it was the first presidential candidate discussion focused exclusively on LGBTQ issues, nor just because of the press it later generated.

The event was significant because it highlighted candidates from one of our two political parties – with 31% of Americans as members – showing their disregard and disdain for people who disagree with them about sexuality and marriage.  

Consider Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was asked a question, “Suppose a supporter approached her and said: ‘Senator, I’m old-fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.’”

Her response was illuminating, ““Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that,” Ms. Warren replied. “And I’m going to say, then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that.”

After being interrupted by lengthy applause from the audience, Warren then quipped, “Assuming you can find one.”

Then Warren stepped back and smirked, as the audience roared with laughter and applauded even more. The Washington Post reported that the video had more than 12 million views after it was posted by her campaign team. The remarks gained Warren a great deal of attention, including plenty of admiring comments from her supporters in the press and Hollywood.

At the same time, some pundits pointed out that perhaps it’s not too smart to attack men and people of faith. You might alienate a lot of voters in the process.

Going even further than Warren, Beto O’Rourke said that churches and faith-based organizations should lose their tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage.

CNN anchor Don Lemon asked, “Do you think religious institutions—like colleges, churches, charities—should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?”

O’Rourke said: “Yes. There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as President, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

Glenn Stanton is director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family and author of a number of articles, resources and books about culture, family and marriage. He noted the condescending and dismissive nature of Warren’s and O’Rourke’s answers, “Both of them essentially indicated that people who disagree with same-sex marriage are not even worth considering. That means millions of faithful Jews, Muslims and Christians are unacceptable and have no place in polite society. And that audience, hosted by the so-called Human Rights Campaign, applauded the idea. People of faith must realize well what’s happening here.”

Stanton said it’s not just mindless bigotry to believe that there are two sexes and that marriage consists of a husband and wife: “Of course there are reasonable arguments in support of natural marriage, and many that have little to do with religion itself. It is a sociological and anthropological fact.”

Throughout all cultures and history, marriage has been a male and female institution – and for good reasons. Stanton explained: “Human marriage is not just about who falls in love with whom, but about regulating sexuality, protecting women and socializing men, and providing mothers and fathers for children. There is no other way to do this than through natural marriage. No society has ever found a way, and neither will ours.”

He noted that Christians and biblical teaching are being sidelined from the public square: “We are increasingly becoming a culture where the elite determine that unless you buy into and salute every new turn from the LGBT community, you are a despicable person. Not only is there no room for disagreement, you will be punished severely.”

Many in the culture would silence our perspective – whether through mockery and scorn, like Warren, or through legislation, like O’Rourke. Christians must understand the reasons for belief in male-female marriage. In addition, we must stand against the intolerance toward our views.

One way to push back against this silencing, Stanton says, is to point out the attempts to suppress disagreement and free speech. He suggests asking questions: “This is what people should start asking when they are pressured. ‘Is it possible to disagree about sexuality and marriage and still be a decent person?’ Make them admit and say out loud that disagreement is not an option.”

More resources:

The Family Project Small Group Experience


Presidential Hopeful: Let’s Strip Tax-Exempt Status from Churches that Believe in God’s Design for Marriage

What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense

Why Care About Marriage?