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Why (the term) “Marriage Equality” Troubles Me

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:40 pm - May 16, 2008.
Filed under: Gay Marriage

Not long after marriage because the cause du jour of gay activists, the term “marriage equality” came to define their movement. So prominent has this term become that a google search (with the expression in quotation marks) yields over 2 million hits. No fewer than 2,884 news articles on yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision used the expression.

While I realize those who use the term to mean granting same-sex couples the same benefits traditional marriage has long afforded to heterosexual couples, there has long been something about the expression which has bothered me. Indeed, I’m troubled that all gay organizations (including, alas Log Cabin) as well as numerous gay activists and individuals have adopted “equality” as the defining word of the gay political movement (more on that in a subsequent post).

The noun “equality” (as opposed to the adjective “equal” in the expressions “equal opportunity” or “equal right”) has socialist overtones, while liberty is more fitting with the American tradition. But, if the goal here were liberty, it would have already been reached. For gay people are free to marry, it’s just that only two states recognize their unions as such (and grant them the privileges of the institution).

Perhaps, what bothers me the most about the term “marriage equality” is its abstraction. The California Supreme Court did little to clarify this, indeed, seemed to further muddy the waters when it defined marriage as “the substantive right of two adults who share a loving relationship to join together to establish an officially recognized family of their own.”

Does that mean that all unions of two adults are equal? Is a monogamous union equal to a nonmonogamous one?


On Differing from my Gay Peers on Marriage Ruling

As I noted in a previous post, yesterday was an exciting, but strange day for me. Part of it was the number of items on my plate, having the chance to write for a larger audience than this blog about an issue to which I have devoted much thought over these past few years and getting to participate in a conference call with my party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Mixed within the excitement, I also had a kind of a “bad feeling,” as if I were Han Solo approaching the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi. It wasn’t until later in the day, after I had finished and edited my Pajamas piece that I got a handle on this.

I recalled why it was when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a screenwriter, I went in to the closet politically, concealing my Republican inclinations. Sometimes, I then felt, it’s not worth the effort to speak out and offer an opinion different from those around you, given that many gay people (and others in the creative professions) tend to define conservatives by our politics and oftentimes to dismiss us because of them.

I didn’t want to criticize something (in this case, the California Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage) that so many around me (including many people I love and respect) were celebrating. But, as a blogger who has written much on gay marriage, particularly criticizing courts for deciding an issue which, I believe, should be left to the legislatures and the people, I felt I had to say something. And as one seeking a larger audience for my work, I thought it would be folly to turn down Pajamas’ invitation to write a piece for them on the decision.

Given my emotional state yesterday, I’m delighted that so many found so much to praise in that piece, even some who disagreed with my conclusions. And I was heartened this morning when a reader linked me to Jonathan Rauch’s piece on the Independent Gay Forum, warning gay marriage advocates to “Hold the Champagne:

I wish I could be as overjoyed by the California Supreme Court’s ruling for same-sex marriage as the rest of the gay world is. Politically, the ruling merely tees up an initiative battle, to be decided by simple majority vote. Backlash against the Court may make that battle harder to win. Affirmation of the Court’s decision by plebescite would be tremendous, but it’s too early to celebrate.

Not only is Jonathan, like yours truly, fearful of the backlash, but he also had some problems with the majority opinion, calling it “an example of judicial overreach.” (As with anything Jonathan writes on marriage, just read the whole thing.)

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about yesterday’s decision, if only to be more like those around me, but cannot in good conscience. I find the opinion flawed on a number of levels and fear a backlash which could extend beyond the Golden State. And fear that those who would like to prevent that backlash would rather attack opponents of state recognition of gay marriage than defend the merits of extending the benefits of this institution to gay people.


Blogging, Gay Marriage & that necessary conversation

Sometime this week (or was it last?), I sorted through the clutter of notes on my desk and made a list of posts I’d like to write on marriage. With yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision, the clutter has grown as I’ve been scribbling down myriad ideas for new posts to add to that list.

As soon as today, I hope to start fleshing out the ideas on that list and posting here on marriage. I do hope to promote a conversation more serious than we have generally seen on both sides of the issue where proponents of gay marriage accuse their adversaries of wanting to write “bigotry and hatred . . . into the California Constitution” and proponents of the traditional marriage accuse their adversaries of wanting to destroy the institution.

Let us hope (I fear this is a vain hope) that those coming forward to debate the issue are like Jonathan Rauch (for gay marriage) and David Blankenhorn (for the traditional definition), individuals who value the importance of the institution and understand (and oftentimes even respect) their ideological adversaries.

I hope to contribute to the debate in the manner that these two individuals have. Yesterday, I didn’t like having to write my Pajamas piece in haste because I wanted to take the time to think seriously about the issue.

Sometimes when we blog, we rush to get an idea out there because the nature of this medium is such that we need get these ideas out there as quickly as possible. People want to hear our ideas right away! But, with a potential social change of this magnitude, we need a more prolonged conversation.


The ’08 Blowout That Never Was?

I am not delusional enough to think that this isn’t the proverbial “Democratic year.”  At one level, I can’t believe this nation would elect a President whose public statements suggest appeasing the enemy in a time of war declared upon this nation by a worldwide radical movement.

On another level, I could really care less anymore and find myself distancing from political engagement.    am tired of Red vs. Blue.  And anyone who thinks Obamessiah will change that is delusional.  And do I really give a royal patootie if the Dems win “this many” House seats or “that many” Senate seats.   Maybe the yoot of America needs to be reminded what it was like when liberals ruled the Federal Government for four decades. 

However, this Election Projection site update is quite telling.    (h/t – Hugh Hewitt)

Where’s the blowout?  Where’s the Democratic Tsunami?  Obama barely squeaking out an Electoral win… when his favorability/popularity will only decline from now to November?  Only 4 net gains for the Dems in the House and Senate?   “They” tell me that the GOP is supposed to lose 40 seats.   Perhaps… but not so fast.

Eh, who cares.  I’m going to go marry a goat.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Sorry, Dan….

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 7:06 am - May 16, 2008.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

…. no shrine for you!

But unlike Abraham Lincoln fighting what he believed was right, GPW would rather have other people do it. Well, I’m not complaining. Having one less shrine to build is more than any one can wish for.

And I didn’t even know you were on the Official Shrine Building List!!!

You just don’t keep me informed anymore.  *sniffs*

-Bruce (GayPatriot)