The Making of Gay Marriage's Top Foe: How Maggie Gallagher's College Pregnancy Made Her a Traditional Marriage Zealot
Continued from previous page
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Gallagher and her husband live in suburban Washington, D.C. It has been an enduring marriage, but not always an easy one — Sherry Weaver, Gallagher’s friend, told me in an email that the couple separated for a time. “She doesn’t believe in divorce,” Weaver wrote, “so when she was having problems in her marriage, her husband moved in with his parents on Long Island for (if I remember correctly) a couple of years while they were dealing with the issue. Every weekend, she drove from upstate New York to Stony Brook so that her husband and their child could spend time together.” Neither Gallagher nor Srivastav would comment on their marriage.
Together with her husband, Gallagher has a second son, who is a junior at the Heights, a Catholic boys’ school in Potomac, Md. The Heights is affiliated with Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic organization made famous by its exaggerated portrayal in “The Da Vinci Code.” Although there are no conspiracies hatched at the Heights, still less any albino monks, the school has attracted the sons of many prominent Catholic conservatives, including Rick Santorum; former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez; former FBI director Louis J. Freeh; and Kate O’Beirne, the Washington editor of National Review. Weaver told me that Gallagher left New York for the Washington area, in 2008, mainly so that her son could attend the Heights. “She decided her son needed to go to a particular high school in Washington, and they moved at great consequence for them,” Weaver says, “just because she felt that was the right thing to do.”
In 2010, Gallagher ceded the presidency of the National Organization for Marriage to Brian Brown. She is still consulted on all aspects of anti-gay-marriage strategy, but she seems to be reverting to her role as an author, speaker and debater (although when she and I met in New York, she had just come from fundraising meetings, with whom she would not say). In December, she finished the manuscript for “Debating Same-Sex Marriage,” a point-counterpoint volume, to be published this June by Oxford University Press, co-authored with the philosopher John Corvino, a gay man who supports same-sex marriage.
Reading Gallagher’s portion of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage” and watching numerous clips of her debates, what surprises me is how little Gallagher talks about gay people, or even gayness. Gallagher’s opposition to gay marriage seems to have very little to do with gay people, indeed with people at all. What really excites her is a depersonalized idea of Marriage: its essence, its purity, its supposedly immutable definition. If properly supported by the right laws and the right customs, Gallagher’s heroic Marriage is good for women, children and society. For Gallagher, gay people are the enemy only insofar as their desire to marry is yet another attack on Marriage: Like no-fault divorce, the welfare state and the normalization of single parenting, same-sex marriage challenges the idea that every child should be with its biological mother and father.
Gallagher is a Roman Catholic, but in truth she is not very theologically oriented. When I ask her whether gay people are sinners, her answer sounds almost dutiful, as if she knows what she is supposed to say: “Well, I am a Catholic,” she says. “If you told me you were gay, and asked if you should have sex with a man, I would say no.” Despite being surrounded by Catholic conservatives in college, and then spending much of her 20s thinking about family structure, she did not return to the church until her late 20s, after writing “Enemies of Eros.” Her return was a gentle process, more intellectual than passionate, and she describes it without much fervor.