Things to come

Everyone should become very familiar with the writings of Hoover Institution fellow Stanley Kurtz on the subject of gay marriage. Kurtz' work, more than anything else, represents the terms of the coming gay marriage debate. The next skirmish in the gay marriage battle, whether it comes from challenging a different state to recognize a Massachusetts-legalized marriage, or from a Federal Marriage Amendment movement picking up steam, will look a lot less like the culture war model of the early 90s and a lot more like Bush's 'compassionate conservatism'. Conservatives know that the country's attitudes towards homosexuality have changed too much in the last five years. The broader public's opposition to gay marriage doesn't come from a fire and brimstone place anymore, but rather from an "I like Will and Grace but this makes me kind of uncomfortable" place. If Republicans play to the fundamentalists on this one, they know they are going to lose the regular supporter's sympathy very quickly, and so, like the Democrats, they have their own share of equivocating to do. And if you want a sneak preview, here's where to find it.

Kurtz has developed a position that very carefully discounts homophobia or religio-family nuttiness as valid reasons for opposing gay marriage. He doesn't rail against gays with armchair deviant psychology or crude stereotypes, but instead engages in subtle claims of deviance by proxy, focusing on the horrors of what await us if gay marriage is legalized--not from gays themselves, but from an army of polygamists, adulterers, incest enthusiasts, etc., who will use gay marriage as carte blanche to advance their own, indisputably undesirable agendas (here). This point also has a softer side, whereby he argues that gay unions undermine the already fragile institution of marriage by potentially decoupling it from parenthood and monogamy. And while dignity and equal rights are all fine, society must make a conscious effort to preserve marriage because it is a public good. Again, the problem isn't with gays per se...Kurtz thinks people should have broad allowances to do what they like, and indeed, argues that the system already works, since gay sex and gay relationships exist everywhere. But he says the law serves a different purpose--that of enshrining social mores whose function we value, such as family structures capable of procreation and nurturing children. Thus, Kurtz makes peace with libertarian tendencies, if not libertarians themselves, while arguing the social conservative line in its most straightforward utilitarian form (see here).

More to come...


Post a Comment

<< Home