By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com September 22 2011 4:39 PM ET
Maggie Gallagher is out as the top leader at the antigay National Organization for Marriage, the group announced today. But don't expect much to change.
She is being replaced by John Eastman, a former dean of Chapman University Law School in Calfornia, who gained notoriety as a vocal backer of Proposition 8. He actually criticized supporters of Prop. 8 for being too conciliatory in their argument that “marriage” is a special title that should be reserved for straight couples.
“If [gay couples] deserve the rights, why not call it marriage?” he told The Orange County Register in 2009. “When it’s argued that there are simply different names for the same relationship, public opinion will say, ‘Why should you have different names?’”
Instead, Eastman argues that straight people are superior to gays because they can procreate, and so marriage is just for people who can procreate.
“You can have separate laws for different situations,” he said. “Marriage is for procreation and promotion of the family.” But he was the target of an uproar for seeming to undermine all adoptive parents. “There is a biological connection to the institution of marriage. The people who have the greatest natural instinct to care for children are the natural parents,” he claimed.
Eastman refused to back away from his insistence that two biological parents are better than single parents, stepparents, and even adoptive parents, claiming that studies “pretty conclusively” show that kids are at more risk in those situations.
“That does not mean, of course, that there are not wonderfully loving examples of single parent or stepparent child rearing, or conversely bad examples of married biological parent child rearing,” he said in a follow-up comment to the newspaper, explaining that even biological parents aren’t perfect. “Lower risk does not mean no risk, or absolute risk on the other side.”
With Eastman stepping in, Gallagher said she will remain on the board but will focus more on writing an antigay book.
“My original intention in co-founding the National Organization for Marriage was to launch a politically sophisticated national activist organization to fight for the views of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is and should remain the union of husband and wife,” she said in a statement. “I think it’s fair to say that NOM has been launched, and is now far more successful than even I dreamed (and I dreamed big!).”
Most recently under Gallagher's leadership, NOM convinced all three major Republican presidential candidates to sign on to her pledge to ban same-sex marriage at the federal level — plus a few other oddball promises, including one to investigate NOM’s opponents for harassment.
But the group is fresh off a major failure in New York, where lawmakers approved same-sex marriage despite NOM's threats to campaign against any Republican who supported the measure. It became in June the most populous state in the nation to offer marriage equality.