Ryan Anderson's 'Truth Overruled' is a Bold New Defense of Marriage

(photo: Register Files)

To hear the liberal news media tell it, those who seek to defend traditional marriage are old, worn out, and unreasonable. But, there’s a thirty-three year old in the nation’s capital who is – quite literally – running circles around that ideologically-charged rhetoric.

In 2012, Ryan T. Anderson, now the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, co-authored What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense with Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis. When that book appeared in print, it catapulted Anderson into the national spotlight, landing him interview requests from shows like Fox News’ Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s The Ed Show with Ed Schultz. It got him on CNN, CNBC, and ABC, too.

Before long, Anderson had launched a nationwide lecture tour, addressing audiences at Stanford University, New York University, Union University, and the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., among many other places. Coincident with his lectures at law schools and on college campuses, Anderson sought to defend his argument for traditional marriage by penning columns for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Weekly Standard, and National Review.

By 2013, Anderson had become something of a celebrity. Thus, when the US Supreme Court handed down its ruling in United States vs. Windsor, a landmark court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, it came as little surprise that Justice Samuel Alito cited Anderson’s book twice in his dissenting opinion. Similarly, when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last month in Obergefell vs. Hodges, Justice Clarence Thomas cited the book in his dissenting opinion.

Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s dramatic usurpation of politics by way of a court case that signaled a stunning and decisive defeat for traditional marriage, Regnery Publishing will release Anderson’s second book entitled Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom. While the book is due to appear in print on August 31, a digital edition of the book is already available on Amazon.com where it already ranks in the top ten books in General Constitutional Law and the Sociology of Marriage and the Family. As social conservatives gear up for the bitter battle for religious liberty ahead, the book is already being hailed as must reading.

Anderson’s book carries endorsements from major intellectual figures like Mary Ann Glendon, the former US Ambassador to the Holy See and the current Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, and Robert P. George, Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. It has received plaudits from outside the academy as well.

Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput states that Anderson’s book is “vital reading for anyone seeking to defend the goodness that remains in our nation and our right to live in accord with the truth” and Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, says that “Every leader in America needs to read this book!” The Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell D. Moore asserted that “Anderson is a Walker Percy for a new day.” Even non-Christian leaders, like Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, are claiming that “All Americans who are rightly concerned about the future of marriage and religious liberty are greatly indebted to [Anderson] for this important book.”

Some might wonder why a book like this is making its appearance now. On the day Obergefell vs. Hodges was decided, gay rights activists cheered the legalization of same-sex marriage and the Obama administration echoed that cheering by shining the gay pride colors on the White House. Since then, the cheers have continued unabated. A recent Gallup poll conducted July 8-12 showed that nearly six in ten Americans (58%) say that gay marriages should be valid and a USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted July 9-12 revealed that 51% of Americans believe that local and state officials should validate gay marriages despite their personal convictions. Hasn’t the time for making arguments about marriage passed? Not according to Anderson who believes that pro-traditional marriage arguments need to be made now more than ever before.

Anderson contends that “There are reasonable and compelling arguments for the truth about marriage.” But, he cautions that “too many of our neighbors haven’t heard them.” He reminds his readers that “Truth is never on ‘the wrong side of history,’ … we have to make the case.” Thus, he “wrote this book for all Americans. For those who disagree with me, to at least understand my arguments. For those who agree, to better understand the nature of the debate and the reasons supporting the truth. For those undecided, to get one thoughtful take on what the future should hold.”

The pro-marriage arguments Anderson offers in his book take three forms. First, they expose the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges as an act of judicial tyranny. Second, they seek to defend what he calls our “freedom to speak and live according to the truth.” And, third, they recommit to making publicly available arguments in defense of the truth of marriage. According to Anderson, Obergefell vs. Hodges won’t be the last word about marriage.

The whole of Anderson’s book is organized in view of these three forms. In the book’s introduction, Anderson himself explains that, “after hundreds of lectures at law schools and college campuses and dozens of TV interviews,” he has written a “must-read manual” on where to go after Obergefell.  His manual is partly a work in political and legal philosophy, partly a social science treatise, and partly a road map for the long march ahead. At 256 pages, the book is subdivided into an introduction, nine chapters, and extensive notes. The book’s nine chapters range across topics like the truth about marriage (Chapter 1), the ramifications of redefining marriage (Chapter 2), judicial activism – or, what Anderson calls ‘judicial tyranny’ – (Chapter 3), religious freedom (Chapter 5), and antidiscrimination law (Chapter 6). The book concludes with Anderson’s insights into how to build a pro-traditional marriage movement (Chapter 8) and his assessment of the “Long View” (Chapter 9).

The overall thrust of his book is to show that, “Whatever the law or culture may say, we must commit now to witness to the truth about marriage: that men and women are equal and equally necessary in the lives of children; that men and women, though different, are complementary; that it takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world. It is not bigotry but compassion and common sense to insist on laws and public policies that maximize the likelihood that children will grow up with a mom and a dad.” Our lives of moral virtue and commitment to the truth will speak more eloquently than the legal machinations of Justice Kennedy.

In his must-read book, available now on Kindle and in print in late August, Anderson bears witness to the truth about what Pope St. John Paul II called a ‘civilization of love’ rooted in the authentic truth about marriage. And, he rallies the troops for the battle ahead. As so many have noted, and as this latest tome makes clear, Anderson’s voice is worth heeding. Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom deserves to be on the bookshelf of anyone who wants to stand firmly on the side of truth.