"What is Marriage," a presentation by one of the nation's leading defenders of the traditional family, Sherif Girgis, will be hosted by St. Monica's Academy March 18 at St. Therese Church, Alhambra.Girgis has written extensively on the subject on marriage and constitutional law, and last year co-authored the book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, New York). His 2011 paper “What Is Marriage?”, coauthored with Robert George and Ryan Anderson, quickly became Social Science Research Network’s most downloaded paper of the previous year, and led to their book on the same subject, which addresses the subject more extensively. The book’s purpose, Girgis said in a recent article for the National Review, is to “make a rational case for the historic understanding of marriage as a conjugal relationship — a union of a man and a woman at every level (mind, heart, and body), inherently oriented to family life.”Additionally, he said, “we show how the common good depends on enshrining this view in law, and answer all the most significant criticisms of this view (having to do with equality, freedom, neutrality, interracial marriage, infertile couples, and much more). We show how the argument for redefining marriage contradicts itself, and document the many ways that embracing it would harm the common good. And we show how society can support marriage without ignoring the needs, undermining the dignity, or curbing the fulfillment of people with same-sex attractions.”The book has been strongly endorsed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Mary Ann Glendon, professor of law at Harvard; and Dr. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life.”“The authors make a compelling secular case for marriage as a partnership between a man and a woman, whose special status is based on society’s interest in the nurture and education of children,” said Glendon.A Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Princeton, Girgis earned a master’s degree in moral, political and legal philosophy at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Currently pursing his Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton and his JD at Yale Law School, he also has given lectures and talks and engaged in debates on marriage and related topics throughout the United States and abroad.Girgis’ talk will be held March 18, 7 p.m. at St. Therese Church, 1100 E. Alhambra Road, Alhambra. For more information, contact Todd Inman, (626) 229-0351 or [email protected].