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Profile of Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage

Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, with wife Sue. Of gays marrying, Sue says she initially thought, "What's the big deal if they do?"
Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, with wife Sue. Of gays marrying, Sue says she initially thought, "What's the big deal if they do?" (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)
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"I think," he says, "it's irrational."

* * *

When Brown came from California a few months ago, the family moved into a comfortable house in Great Falls, surrounded by trees. His children are precocious and sweet; his wife is gracious and funny.

Sue Brown had never really thought about same-sex marriage until she met Brian. "Obviously, I always realized there were gay people," she says one Friday morning, sitting in the still-sparsely furnished living room. "But I didn't think about them wanting to get married." And once she did: "Initially, I probably thought, well, what's the big deal if they do? What does it have to do with me?"

When she and Brian got engaged, she envisioned normal family life, both of them returning from their jobs -- she was a high school English teacher -- and having family dinner. Now, while he's crusading, she deals with home-schooling the older children and caring for the younger. It hasn't been easy.

"Connecticut was really hard," she says. In Connecticut, they lived on a street with two sets of lesbian parents. One summer a mutual acquaintance threw a neighborhood party. Brian wasn't invited at all, and Sue's invitation came with a note: "We know what Brian does. If your views are not the same, you can come to the party." Sue stayed home.

"I get how [gays and lesbians] feel," she says. "I get that."

She's pictured what it might be like to be on the other side of this debate. "I know many awesome women, and I've thought about what if I got together with one of them" and tried to raise a family.

She has thought through it. She supports her husband. "I can only go by my own experience, and I believe there's a huge difference in gender." The kids don't need Brian "walking in the door because he's another person. They need him because he's a man."

They haven't made a lot of friends here so far. He works endless hours and so does she. Sue starts off by telling people that he's the director of a nonprofit group. If they ask for more information, she tells them it's a nonprofit dedicated to preserving marriage. And then, of course, they ask her about his position on gay marriage. Whether he's for it or against it.

Brian has come into the room. He's late for a conference call and trying to get out the door.

"What time will you be home tonight?" Sue asks.

"Ahhhh . . . "

"Six."

"Well . . . "

"Six. Just say it and do it. Six."

He doesn't quite agree, but he doesn't disagree, either. And then he's out the door, going off to quietly crusade for the hearts and minds of people who, like Brown, pride themselves on being rational, mainstream and sane.


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