Family Research Council Senior Fellow Bob Morrison published a new blog post today posing the question, “Are Peter, Paul, and Mary Bigots, Too?,” referring to the folk trio. His entire argument is based on the song lyrics to “The Wedding Song,” which Paul Stookey wrote for Peter Yarrow’s wedding, which refer to a “man and wife”:
It’s an amazing song that must have been played at a million weddings since those halcyon days when this folk rock phenomenon hit the pop music scene. It’s wonderful just to consider the lyrics. “What shall be the meaning of becoming man and wife?” [...]
Question for the left: Are Peter, Paul, and Mary bigots, too? Is the mere fact that they knew what marriage was for fifty years enough to brand them as hate-filled?
The simple answer is no, Peter, Paul, and Mary are not bigots. And the best explanation for this is that they have always supported LGBT equality. Though Mary has passed away, Peter and Paul made this very clear to the National Organization for Marriage in 2010 when it used a recording of them singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” at an anti-gay rally. Not only did Peter Yarrow describe the use of the song “heartbreaking,” but he and Paul Stookey wrote to NOM explaining that they were full supporters of marriage equality and have been “for decades”:
We would like to respectfully request that you refrain from playing the Peter, Paul, & Mary recorded version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” at your public rallies. We respect your right to hold and advocate for any position you wish, but the philosophy of the “National Organization for Marriage” is directly contrary to the advocacy position Peter, Paul, & Mary have held for decades, and so we do not want our recording of this song played at your rallies.
We strongly support the rights of all gays and lesbian to enjoy the rights and rituals of marriage that are enjoyed by their straight counterparts, and consider the abridgement of this right contrary to the sense of equal protection and fairness inherent in, and implied by, the law of the Constitution of the United States.
If Morrison’s best argument in the fight over same-sex marriage is to assume musicians’ positions based on their lyrics, perhaps he should read all of the lyrics. “The Wedding Song” is often subtitled “There Is Love,” because that is the lyric that recurs the most throughout. Just because the song was written for a specific marriage that happened to be for a “man and wife” doesn’t mean that’s its most important message. Indeed, when any two “shall travel on to where the two shall be as one,” there is love, and Stookey and Yarrow don’t seem to have any doubts about that.
Listen to the classic tune: