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The Making of Gay Marriage's Top Foe: How Maggie Gallagher's College Pregnancy Made Her a Traditional Marriage Zealot

Maggie Gallagher has devoted herself to stopping same-sex marriage.

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One of the other frequent guests, Weaver says, was Raman Srivastav, a fellow conservative from Gallagher’s Yale days. “He was always around the house when I was living with her,” Weaver says. Near the end of Weaver’s seven months in residence, Gallagher and Srivastav got engaged. Weaver moved out, around Christmastime, Gallagher and Srivastav married on Jan. 2, 1993, and immediately afterward he moved in. Gallagher is coy about their courtship — “How do things go from friendship to more?” she muses, and that’s as much as she will say. David Wagner, now a law professor at Regent University, knew both Gallagher and Srivastav in the Party of the Right, and he puts a romantic spin on their eventual union: “She eventually married another Party member who had adored her from the beginning, and he adopted Patrick and gave them a better life. And that is a happy outcome.”

In 1996, Gallagher began writing a weekly newspaper column, published a second book, “The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love,” and joined the  Institute for American Values, a New York think tank. David Blankenhorn, the institute’s founder, says he is a political liberal, and his image is that of a cosmopolitan: He is a Harvard graduate, a Presbyterian with a Jewish wife, and to all appearances an unconflicted New Yorker (although born in Mississippi). Blankenhorn founded his institute in 1987 to unite those of varying political persuasions around the urgency of keeping nuclear families together. (Blankenhorn’s first book was called “Fatherless America.”) Today, Blankenhorn is second only to Gallagher as the face of the anti-gay-marriage movement: In 2010 he was a witness for the defense in the appellate trial over Proposition 8, the ballot measure that ended same-sex marriage in California. But until recently he tried to keep his institute away from so divisive an issue.

When she joined Blankenhorn’s institute, Gallagher was not interested in same-sex marriage either. She was busy writing about easy divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and the high costs of feminism. Gay men and lesbians, for their part, were focused on increased funding for AIDS research, hate-crimes statutes, and the dim prospect of someday, maybe, ending “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They did not believe they would live to see the legalization of same-sex marriage, and neither, of course, did Maggie Gallagher.

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In early April 2003, the Institute for American Values invited two dozen activists, scholars and journalists to Osprey Point, a conference center near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, for a “marriage leaders summit.” Wade Horn, the Bush administration’s point man for pro-marriage policies, was there, as was Ann Hulbert, then of the New York Times Magazine; Will Marshall, of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute; and David Popenoe, who runs the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had agreed to hear the Goodridge case the following November, and Gallagher suspected, correctly, that same-sex marriage would become the central front, in fact the only front, in the marriage wars. This gathering was probably the last occasion that a large group with reasonably diverse political views could amicably discuss marriage.

“The official meeting had nothing to do with gay marriage,” Gallagher says. “But it was the first time I remember sitting down and at least expressing my concern. Before that time — I don’t think, I can’t say for sure — but I had rarely if ever thought about or read about or taken same-sex marriage seriously, and it was at that meeting I first raised the question, which is what do people who care about marriage think about this same-sex marriage issue, because it’s not theoretical. It’s coming.”

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