Allowing gay couples to marry would "gut marriage of its core meaning," speaker Maggie Gallagher said Saturday at a Mesa conference for a nonprofit group seeking to preserve the traditional concept of a family.
The Defend Marriage and Family Conference, held at Centennial Hall, focused on two recent court rulings that are considered significant steps toward legal recognition of homosexual marriages nationwide.
Singers, children and a Muslim opening prayer added goodwill to the event, organized by Gilbert-based nonprofit United Families In ternational. Keynote speaker Sean Hannity, a conservative talk show host, provided doses of liberal-bashing and humor.
"Marriage is not an ideological issue," said Gallagher, founder of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. "It’s not a partisan issue."
Gallagher called a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling sanctioning gay marriage in that state "breathtaking in its arrogance, its indifference and its ignorance."
Speakers also criticized a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that says laws prohibiting homosexual sex are unconstitutional.
Outside the convention center, a group of about 10 protesters, organized by William Rose, 21, of Phoenix, displayed signs promoting marriage rights for homosexuals.
Rose said he understands the group’s concerns about protecting the traditional family unit, but with more same-sex couples adopting children, and with the current high percentage of unstable heterosexual families, he disagreed with the notion that prohibiting gay marriages is the answer.
"We just really wanted to make a statement for equality," Rose said about the protest, adding that gays should not be denied the legitimacy and social approval that a marriage provides.
Still, Gallagher said marriage is more than simply a legal validation of a loving relationship.
"The people who make the baby are supposed to stick around and love the baby, and love each other, too," she said.