America depends upon the free and open discussion of ideas. The use of fear and intimidation to silence public discussion is fundamentally incompatible with the American form of government in which ultimate authority rests with the people. For this reason, the First Amendment expressly guarantees our freedom of speech, elevating this right amongst the many unalienable rights protected by our Constitution.

Recently, the tech company Mozilla (maker of the popular web browser Firefox) forced out Brendan Eich, the company’s CEO and inventor of Javascript, over his support of Proposition 8, the 2008 measure to preserve marriage in California as the union of one man and one woman. When Mr. Eich made his modest contribution to support Proposition 8, Barack Obama was on the ballot as a candidate who said he believed marriage was the union of one man and one woman. Now Eich has been the target of a vicious character attack by gay ‘marriage’ activists who have forced him out of the company he has helped lead for years.

Dan Cathy’s public support for “the biblical definition of the family unit” elicited a well-documented series of attacks from the media, customers, politicians, and even an armed gunman. In contrast, high profile financial and political support for gay marriage is met with public praise, and never a coordinated effort to curtail free speech.

Fear and intimidation are also being used to control speech within the academy. A paper by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas affirming the time-tested truth that the intact biological family is the institution best suited for raising children was met with an organized campaign of intimidation. In measures that harken back to the McCarthy era, the editor of the Journal of Social Science Research was himself pressured to retract the publication of Professor Regnerus’s work. Academic research extolling alternative family structures, by contrast, is regularly met with adulation—never organized intimidation.

Scholars, public figures, and average citizens who publically defend the institution of marriage as the conjugal union of one man and one woman often face character assassination and occasionally threats of physical violence. Facing similarly vicious attacks in the decades leading up to the Civil War, America’s abolitionists recalled the timeless insight that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The wisdom of these words applies as much today as then. If the calculated use of fear and intimidation is permitted to dominate this important public debate, America will lose not just the time-tested institution of marriage but also endanger our form of government which depends on the free and open exchange of ideas.

Therefore, we seek the courageous affirmation of your beliefs regarding both marriage and liberty. With our signatures below and personal contributions to the National Organization for Marriage, we commit ourselves to stopping the downward spiral of intimidation and fear threatening hard-won American liberties and the institution of marriage. We hope our widening base of public and financial support will embolden many fellow Americans to join us in the campaign to preserve both our form of government and the institution of marriage.