There May Well Be Good Arguments In Favor Of Same Sex Marriage But David Blankenhorn Doesn’t Get Around To Making Them
Apparently David Blankenhorn is (now was) a big deal in the anti-same sex marriage movement so his defection to supporting it has garnered quite a bit of attention. Sadly, the reasons he gives for his dramatic change of mind are flimsy at best.
Let me run through them one at a time.
For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
This is probably the strongest of his reasons but it’s not quite consistent, is it? If traditional marriages aren’t the same as same-sex relationships why should they be treated the same by society in its laws? The law isn’t a giant self-esteem project, Oprah writ large, it’s how society as a whole codifies it’s values. Not treating things that aren’t the same differently doesn’t “denigrate” or stigmatize one or the other, it’s simply a reflection of values. Sparing some people from having their feelings hurt isn’t a reason to alter a fundamental institution.
Another good thing is comity. Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting.
This is bizarre on its face. Where has the all important “comity” been from the side seeking to change marriage? Where is their respect or compromise for those who only wish to defend what has existed for thousands upon thousands of years? People who simply point out that there may be long term consequences we haven’t considered in over turning the meaning of marriage have been derided as bigots and haters (or H8ters as the kids like to say. More about them in a minute).
Liberals love to condemn conservatives for waging a unending “culture war”. But every war has an aggressor and it’s hard to claim the people defending the traditional definition of marriage as anything but the attacked party in this particular war.
What Blankenhorn is calling for his isn’t “comity” it’s graceful surrender. I’m not sure why many of his former compatriots will join him, especially since they annoyingly keep gaining the support of a majority of voters when the matter is put to a vote.
Ah yes, those pesky voters, Blankenhorn doesn’t think they matter. No he identifies the groups we must heed.
A third good thing is respect for an emerging consensus. The population as a whole remains deeply divided, but most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage. This emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits. But surely it matters.
I’m sure it’s possible to find two groups less worth of respect than “our national elites” and “younger Americans” but you’d be hard pressed to. Who these elites are is never made clear but Blankenhorn insists they know better than all those voters across the country. As for “young Americans”, they do overwhelmingly support same sex marriage now and that may be enough to carry the day in the future but why don’t we let these youngsters grow up a bit, experience the world and perhaps have a family of their own before we take their opinion as the gold standard for society. The reality is, same-sex marriage is a relatively new idea in the history of humanity. Perhaps the accumulated knowledge and experience of countless generations deserves a little more respect. Perhaps this generation of “young Americans” is the wisest generation ever or perhaps they are young and their passions and priorities will change.
For what it’s worth, I’m deeply opposed to same-sex marriage being imposed by courts. I’m more indifferent to it if passed legislatively. I don’t see any real benefits from it but given the debasement of marriage in this country, I don’t see any real harm. As a conservative (not a social conservative) I’m simply temperamentally opposed to doing something, when doing nothing carries no penalty.