The International Roots of the Same-Sex Marriage Furor
By Darla Isackson

Thirteen states passed amendments this year that specifically define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  More states will be considering such an amendment in future elections.

Why are marriage amendments deemed necessary by so many? What is the furor about? Why are those who have been involved with international negotiation of family policy so alarmed when people see the legalization of same-sex marriage as simply a matter of mutual tolerance, or a matter of equal rights?

Utah’s Amendment 3, which defined marriage as a union between a man and woman, passed by a resounding 66% on 2 November 2004. A small but important book called Mothers and Fathers Defending Marriage and Family in the Halls of the U.N. was a contributing factor to this decisive victory. The book was put together by Susan Roylance and included her experiences as a pro-family activist on a local, national, and international level. It also included informative and eye-opening articles on the same subject by Sharon Slater, president of United Families International, and Richard G. Wilkins, Professor of Law and Managing Director of the The World Family Policy Center at BYU. (The recent Meridian articles by these two authors are in the book.)

The vital message that reached those who read the book was that the anti-family, same-sex marriage issues are not local or regional, but part of an international movement to destroy the family.  The experiences of those involved on that level sound a wake-up call to all who recognize the importance of the family unit as God ordained it to be. Many now realize the vital importance of standing firm in favor of the fundamental foundation of the family – marriage between a man and a woman.

I’d like to share a pivotal experience in Susan Roylance’s life that illustrates the strength of the opposition and the need for unity in support of the First Presidency’s Proclamation of the Family. The story is drawn from Chapter 4, “Gender, Gender, Gender” of Susan’s book Defending Marriage and Family.

A Trip to the U.N.

Susan was contacted in the spring of 1995 by a Catholic friend who called her from Virginia to invite her to go to New York City to represent Mormon/Western women in a meeting with the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women. The friend had been a local campaign manager for Susan in Washington State when she was a candidate for the U.S. Congress, so she knew Susan was a Mormon and that she could represent them well.

Susan said, “This group was preparing a Plan of Action for the Fourth World Conference on Women to be held in Beijing later that year.  The organization my friend belonged to was putting together a group of women who represented grassroots America. Their purpose was to encourage the U.S. delegates to be more pro-family, pro-life, and pro-motherhood. They wanted this group of women to represent different areas of the country and different religions.”

Although Susan initially declined because of lack of funds, she was unable to find anyone else to go, and the way was made open for her to attend. When she arrived at the United Nations Building, a stranger saw her in the hall, recognized her name from a Senate testimony she had given 14 years earlier, and invited her to go with her to a Linkage Caucus meeting. She said, “You will learn more about what goes on at the U.N. in the Linkage Caucus meeting than anyplace else.”

Soon after they entered the room, Susan reports that “a woman from Africa came rushing through the door of the caucus room, announcing that the U.N. Delegates who were meeting to negotiate a document that would guide international policy relating to women had just bracketed the word “gender” throughout the entire document. This document – a plan of action that would be finalized at the Beijing conference – would help set public policy for women throughout the world for the coming decade.  At the end of the conference, the participating countries whose representatives signed the document would be bound by that document if they hoped to receive any U.N. benefits.  Countries would not be able to get loans from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, as well as receive other U.N. benefits, if they didn’t comply. 

When the participants learned that the word “gender” had been bracketed, the room broke into pandemonium.  Susan didn’t understand the meaning of the uproar.  She soon learned that majority of the participants who were in the room with her had an agenda to assure that the official “definition” of gender included homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender person.  The bracketing had come about when Marta Cosco, a delegate from Honduras, heard a man from the UN Secretariat commenting that the word “gender,” which was translated into Spanish as “male or female,” was not correct. The member of the Secretariat, who had a homosexual agenda, said, “That’s not what gender means!” Marta Cosco had responded, “Well, if that’s not what it means, then what does it mean?” No agreement could be reached, and according to policy, when they could not reach a consensus on the meaning, the word was bracketed for future negotiation.

A Life-Changing Moment

Suggestions flew in the caucus room, and a plan began to develop as caucus members determined a place and a time to meet to fine-tune their strategy.  Then a prominent voice rang out:  “We need to find out who is in this room!”

Susan said that other pro-family delegates, not wishing to disclose the names of the organizations they represented, quietly left. However, she stayed in her seat. She wanted to discover what was really going on. She knew a lot about the leader of this group, former U.S. Congresswoman Bella Abzug. Abzug had been at the helm of the radical feminist movement with their anti-family work.  Her goal was to save women from the “drudgeries” of marriage and children. Susan knew Abzug’s priorities were opposite from her own.

Susan said, “Each woman was asked to stand and introduce herself. When it came my turn I stood and said, ‘My name is Susan Roylance, and I’m with United Families of America.’

“As soon as I said the word ‘families’ the room broke into laughter and jeers.  The outburst was so spontaneous and so taunting that I was absolutely shocked. In retrospect, it was a life-changing moment for me, as I realized that these leaders of women from all over the world were absolutely united in their attitude against families. I had known that some of them were pushing toward acceptance of other lifestyles, but was surprised at the intensity of the animosity they all had toward the traditional family.”

A Feminist Strategy

Susan continues, “As soon as everyone had introduced themselves, the leaders excitedly returned to talking about what they could do to encourage a broader definition of gender.  My presence was soon forgotten, as one by one they raised their hands to make suggestions.  After listening to their animated conversation for a few minutes, I asked, ‘Can I say something?’

“‘Sure, go ahead.’

“‘I don’t understand why you can’t be for the advancement of women, and for families too.  Why are the two mutually exclusive?’

“A woman in front of me turned around and said, ‘Do you believe lesbians can be mothers?’

“Surprised at the question, I responded, ‘I believe in motherhood, and as far as I know there is only one way to become a mother.’

“Another woman said, ‘Do you believe in choice?’

“‘Yes, I believe in choice.  But it would be a very, very rare instance before I would ever choose to have an abortion.’

As the discussion continued, it became apparent that the major point of this meeting was to promote abortion rights and lesbian rights. “

Susan soon learned that the Clinton Administration was part of the coalition to expand the meaning of the word “gender” to include multiple genders.  With the word gender in so many places in the document, that would insure the inclusion of lesbians and homosexuals in every aspect of the Plan of Action.

Pressure Tactics

Susan reports, “Within hours after I left the caucus room the pressure was on Marta Cosco, one of the lonely pro-family delegates.  A few days earlier, Marta had given a speech on the importance of mothers.  She had said,  “Are you willing to give up everything good that mothers have done down through the centuries?” 

A member of the United States delegation contacted her after the speech and told her that all humanitarian aid to Honduras would be stopped if she didn’t ‘back off.’  Honduras is the poorest country in this hemisphere, so Marta called the president of Honduras and asked him what she should do.  She was gratified when her president told her to hold her position in favor of families.  Marta did hold strong on her position, even though the pressure was so intense that she became quite ill.  But she stood firm!

The battle of words raged at the U.N.  Finally, a committee was formed to meet in a month (away from the pro-family influence) and come up with a “more acceptable” definition of gender.  For now, the brackets were left in place, with a plan to meet again after the definition was agreed upon, to further negotiate the ‘gender’ sentences.

Back Home

Susan was glad to return to Utah, a safe haven from the wrangling of the UN.  She felt that her own family was safe from “gender” politics, at least for now.  But she kept thinking about Marta Cosco from Honduras – one of the poorest countries in the world – and the pressure that was put on her.   Susan thought, “If we don’t do something, who will?”

As she looked across the valley at the majestic Wasatch Mountains, she felt the security that living in Utah provided for her family.  She wondered if the radical feminist agenda being promoted through United Nations documents could affect her own family, now or in the future.  She went to Richard G. Wilkins for that answer. Richard is a law professor at BYU and was the Vice President of United Families of Utah.

Richard told Susan that the wording in the United Nations documents can affect every citizen in America.  He said we are already seeing ripple effects in the homosexual curriculum now in place in many schools in the United States and Canada, and the cry for “equal rights” in regard to same-sex marriages.  We also see persecution and even legal action against those who dare to quote Bible verses that label homosexuality as sinful, and in the media presentation of women as everything but nurturing, happy mothers. 

Susan realized that if the lives of everyone she held dear would be affected by what the U.N. was deciding, she couldn’t sit back making cookies and pretending everything was well in Zion.  She embarked on a journey that has included twenty-one international conferences and visits to twenty-eight countries as an advocate for the traditional family. 

She said, “As I think back on these experiences and the many times I have gone around the globe to promote family-friendly public policy, I am in awe at the workings of God as we strive to make a difference for good in the world. It is only through His help that all of this could have happened.”


In the preface of the book Mothers and Fathers Defending Marriage & Family in the Halls of the U.N., Lynn Allred, Director of Communications for United Families International, defined the international agenda of the anti-family movement that made their organization necessary. The homosexuals and lesbians are determined to gain public acceptance of their lifestyle, the pro-abortion feminists want to establish publicly funded abortions for every woman all over the world and to put children into public day-care centers.

She says, “These same activists are determined to take away the rights of parents, to require governments to freely dispense contraceptives and provide abortions without parental notification or consent. They propose sex education programs, beginning with kindergarten, which expose children to ‘alternate lifestyles’ at a tender age.”

The activists have loud voices and energy that reminds one of the Energizer Bunny. They just keep pushing on and on. Sister Allred says, “I am happy to note that most of these objectives have not been achieved at the United Nations – because concerned mothers and fathers have become involved. These parents want to protect the society in which they are raising their children. But now these activists are determined to use the courts to obtain their objectives. With the cooperation of some liberal activist judges, they are changing the laws of the land.”

The more informed we become, the more evident it seems that the issue of same-sex marriage is not about tolerance for people of differing viewpoints. It is not about affording equal rights to all citizens. It is a vital part of the adversary’s all-out war on the traditional family unit that was organized and sanctioned by God. It is about fulfilling the prophecy that in the latter days many will “call good evil, and evil good.” It is about escalating the terrifying downhill slide into the widespread evil that will necessitate the cleansing of the earth before the second coming.

There is no grey area in this matter. As the polarization increases between those who stand for the Lord’s word, the Lord’s standards, the Lord’s definition of marriage and those who fight for the legal “right” to pursue evil practices, we can only quote the words of the hymn, “Who’s on the Lord Side Who?” (Hymn 260)

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly: Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?
We wage no common war, Cope with no common foe.
The enemy’s awake; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

Note: Susan’s book Mothers and Fathers Defending Marriage and Family in the Halls of the U.N. can be obtained on