The Making of Gay Marriage's Top Foe: How Maggie Gallagher's College Pregnancy Made Her a Traditional Marriage Zealot
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Undoing feminism’s damage will involve better laws, retrenching to older views of gender, and gentle condescension to men. Gallagher was years ahead of her time in arguing, as writers like Kay Hymowitz do today, that contemporary society has left men without a role. “We will never find a solution to the New Man shortage, unless we jettison gender neutrality,” Gallagher writes. “Men need a role in the family. What men need, loath though we are to utter the word, is a sex role.” Gallagher approvingly offers the example, drawn from a Wall Street Journal article, of one Millie Stephens, “a 28-year-old manager for Bell of Pennsylvania who earns $46,000 a year.” Her husband, Carl, a state trooper, earns $31,000 a year, and “to disguise her salary, they put all of her earnings in the bank and live off his income.” “Mrs. Stephens” also washes the dishes and irons her husband’s shirts. “I don’t mind treating him like a man,” she says.
Starting with “Enemies of Eros,” marriage policy became the focus of Gallagher’s career. In September 1992, while she was working as an editor at City Journal, the conservative journal she helped found, Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the television character Murphy Brown for becoming a single mother by choice. It was a perfect occasion to see the contemptible liberal elites in action: They swarmed Quayle, attacking him for his backwardness. In the vice president’s defense, Gallagher wrote “An Unwed Mother for Quayle,” an Op-Ed column for the New York Times in which she offers her bits of advice, learned over 10 years of single-mothering, for women who might be tempted to follow Murphy Brown’s lead. “Have relatively affluent parents who got and stayed married themselves,” she writes. “Be able to choose a profession with flexible hours … Find a boss who doesn’t mind if you bring a sick 4-year-old and his dinosaurs to the office, which will happen regularly … Expect to give up all the advantages of single life — freedom, romance, travel … Prepare for the nights when your child cries himself to sleep in your arms, wondering why his father doesn’t love him.”
Although she was, for the time being, without a father for her son, Gallagher was not alone. Co-workers at National Review remember a cheery young woman with a gift for friendship. And Sherry Weaver, who met Gallagher on their sons’ first day in kindergarten at P.S. 321, in Park Slope, moved in with Gallagher and Patrick after her third marriage fell apart, in 1992. Weaver remembers a crowded and happy house, filled with guests, many of them from the conservative movement. Charles Bork was often there, and sometimes stayed over.
Weaver says that Gallagher is one of the kindest people she has ever met, and that Gallagher was happy to blend their families for months on end. “She housed my two children and me for seven months,” Weaver told me in an email. “But it was not in the spare bedroom or the family room downstairs in some out-of-the-way space that would not interfere with her life. No, she lived in a small two-bedroom house, so we slept in her bed and she slept on the couch. She slept on the couch for seven months! Who would do that? And she did it with grace and generosity. She paid all the bills, gave me some work that I did horribly, in order to give me money. She did all the cooking and nurtured us with unbelievable kindness. She was never grumpy or out of sorts. My children and I were completely traumatized, and this time with Maggie was a time of healing for us.”