Politics

Fairly Ineffective Prop. 8 Defender Now Supports Gay Marriage

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David Blankenhorn, one of only two witnesses supporters of Proposition 8 actually called upon to defend California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage recognition, announced he has switched sides. He explained his new attitude Friday in a New York Times commentary:

David Blankenhorn

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.

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.

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.

Blankenhorn's reversal probably actually isn't much of a surprise to close followers of the Proposition 8 trial. Blankenhorn's claim to fame during the trial was essentially conceding that recognizing gay marriage could help stabilize same-sex families and improve the welfare of children in same-sex families. Mostly, he served as a self-described "transmitter" of research by other scholars on same-sex marriage who did not testify.

In other news as the battle for the gay marriage recognition marches its inevitable but fabulous (happy Pride month!) route to the Supreme Court, House Republicans have announced they will ask justices to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.