Civil Liberties

Sadly, the Predictably Lame Arguments Against Gay Marriage Seem to be Working Quite Well…


Down below, Matt Welch points to a recent Weekly Standard car wreck of an article attacking gay marriage as only a thrice-married conservative can muster with a straight face (bonus points for the fantastic world we live in: One of the ads in the automated Google ad feed at the Standard's site is for, "the gay-friendly place to socialize, network, and make your voice heard!").

Matt challenges you to read the thing to the finish, which is sort of like eating a 72-ounce steak after scarfing a couple dozen donuts: Tough to do, but well worth it for the sense of achievement. The basic argument is that gay marriage will somehow destroy "kinship" and related familial obligations more than, say, three straight marriages, and the big finish is this odd Newtonian threat (spoiler alert!) that if the gays don't recognize the heroic restraint of straight men who keep it in their pants, then, well, civilization itself is going to give them such a pinch!:

If gay men and women could see the price that humanity—particularly the women and children among us—will pay, simply in order that a gay person can say of someone she already loves with perfect competence, "Hey, meet the missus!"—no doubt they will think again. If not, we're about to see how well humanity will do without something as basic to our existence as gravity.

The whole Weekly Standard story, by Sam Schulman, is here. Interestingly, Schulman tacitly acknowledges that he's fighting a lost cause. Peering through the misty glory hole of history, he gasps that "the embrace of homosexuality in Western culture has come about with unbelievable speed…. Less than 50 years ago same-sex sexual intercourse was criminal. Now we are arguing about the term used to describe a committed relationship." For a second, I thought was about to start reading an old Onion article on a related theme.

Recent polling data from Gallup suggests that gay marriage is still some time away from acceptance.

Support (or more precisely, tolerance) of homosexuality is way up. Back in 1977, Gallup started asking whether relationships between gay and lesbian adults should be legal. Only 43 percent of Americans thought so, a figure that has climbed to 56 percent since.

However, when it comes to recognizing gay marriage (which the polling compnay asking about in the mid-'90s), Gallup finds support slipping from a high of 46 percent in 2007 to 40 percent this year.

As with many rotten things in life, I'd like to blame Rosie O'Donnell somehow for the decline in support for gay marriage, but I don't think that gets us very far towards an answer. And, like Matt, I continue to believe that what we're witnessing here is the last gasp of a losing argument against truly equal rights for gays and lesbians. Gallup finds that 18-29 year-olds favor recognition by 59 percent over 37 percent, suggesting that as younger Americans age there will be less and less resistance to the idea of gay marriage. Given that, and the increasing tolerance for gays and lesbians in general (where have you gone, Mr. Roper, with all the Tinkerbell jokes?), it remains firmly a question of when gay marriage is legalized, not if.

I hope we get to gay marriage sooner rather than later; I don't find the fear that it will destroy or even significantly disrupt society very convincing. And as Martin Luther King, Jr. could tell you, telling people to just wait a while because change can be difficult to handle gets old fast. It is no small thing to be able to say "Meet the missus!," as Marrying Man Sam Schulman must certainly know. 

And I trust he will agree with this simple reality: The longer it takes for gays and lesbians to enjoy the benefits and experience of marriage, the longer it will take them to enjoy the benefits and experience of divorce. And that's just not fair, gravity be damned.