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Gay Marriage, a Change that is a Privilege not a Right

If gay marriage advocates are serious about securing state recognition of same-sex marriage, they need show respect for and take issue with serious arguments against their cause.  The angry rants of all too many activists notwithstanding, many opponents of gay marriage ground their opposition not in bigotry but in their understanding of the meaning of the institution.

They see it, as it has been defined for millennia, a union of individuals of different genders.  I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repetition: those pushing for change need understand that that’s what they’re doing — pushing for change.

And considering how so many of them warmed to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign with just that slogan, “Change,” they should welcome a campaign for change.  They trying to change the type of relationships states privilege by calling them marriages.

Note the verb I use in that last sentence, “privilege” because that’s what states do when they call a particular kind of union, “marriage,”  they privilege it.  I’ve been saying that for years.

I find myself in good company.  A reader alerted me to Thomas Sowell’s column last week where he finds the issue of state recognition of same-sex marriage as one off privileges, not “rights:”  “The politically clever way to get special privileges is to call them ‘rights’– especially ‘equal rights.’

So, let’s change the campaign for gay marriage by honestly acknowledging the goal of the advocacy:  to include same-sex couples among the relationships states privilege.  With that in mind, we need understand what Sowell does (and what all too many gay marriage activists choose to ignore):

Marriage has existed for centuries and, until recent times, it has always meant a union between a man and a woman. Over those centuries, a vast array of laws has grown up, all based on circumstances that arise in unions between a man and a woman.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that law has not been based on logic but on experience. To apply a mountain of laws based specifically on experience with relations between a man and a woman to a different relationship where sex differences are not involved would be like applying the rules of baseball to football.

The argument that current marriage laws “discriminate” against homosexuals confuses discrimination against people with making distinctions among different kinds of behavior.

As I’ve said repeatedly on this blog, it’s time gay activists acknowledge reality and change their rhetoric and strategy accordingly.

The passage of Proposition 8 should serve as a wake-up call that these advocates need show respect for their adversaries.  Given that marriage has always been defined by sexual difference, they need recognize that they are pushing for social change.  Not just that.  In asking for states to recognize this expanded definition of marriage, they are asking governments to confer privileged status upon our unions, not protect some long-extant right that Californians just voted to usurp.

Stop the Protests. Begin the Introspection.

Welcome Instapundit Readers!  If this topic interests you, check out some other posts I penned, er, pixeled on the protests here (wondering what they accomplish), here (favoring persuasion not protest), here (faulting protesters) and here (calling protesters sore losers).

There are many things I would rather blog about than these persistent protests against Proposition 8, but it seems to have become the topic du jour in the gay world and, well, I’m a gay blogger for a gay political blog.  And I happen to live in Los Angeles which has been ground zero for these outbursts.

This reaction shows the worst of the gay community.  And because the protests are making the news, people across the nation are seeing this behavior.  Many of them may come to define gay people by the antics of a few.*  Not the best way to convince persuadable citizens that states should recognize same-sex unions, calling them marriage.

Instead of throwing public temper tantrums, those who are serious about gay marriage should be holding private (or semi-public) meetings to figure out why why Proposition 8 passed and what can be done to defeat similar initiatives in the future.

In short, we should be best considering how to promote gay marriage.  Protest is not the solution.  Intelligent advocacy is.

It would help if more gay marriage advocates actually understood (as Jonathan Rauch does) the purpose of marriage and could explain why we need preserve this ancient institution and extend its definition–and protection–to include same-sex couples.

But, they’d rather focus on the language of rights, when we need discuss responsibilities.

We might then be better served if the gay movement stop styling itself a civil rights movement and redefine itself as a social movement.  Perhaps then they’ll secure what they call their “rights.”  Once we make clear the need for social change and start making known many of us are already living those changes, people will come to respect our relationships and soon state legislatures will start recognizing them as a matter of course.

The key is simply to show that we “get” marriage.  And the leadership of the various gay organizations, particularly those devoted to promoting same-sex marriage haven’t done that.  Instead of venting their spleens in the public square about the failure of citizens to understand that, they need figure out why they’ve failed in the past, so they can better understand what they need do in the future to change minds.

*It would be nice if a gay organization criticized these demonstrations.

UPDATE:  Back to blogging at the Malcontent, the ever adorable Robbie agrees:

When defeated at the polls, there are several potential courses of action. One can engage in endless recriminations and purify the movement (or as I like to call it, shallowing the political gene pool). On the other hand, if you’re a particularly reflective person, you could engage in a bit of self-criticism, use the data at hand to understand where you might have gone wrong, and vow to do better in the future

.Read the whole thing!

The Class of John McCain

I don’t watch TV much, but yesterday I had the chance to see the two candidates I backed for Vice President and President respectively on national television.

While I often call Greta Van Susteren, Greta so Insufferable, I’ve got to give her credit for how she handled her interview the Alaska Governor, conducting the better part of it in that great woman’s kitchen, really humanizing the Republican.  Had more people seen Palin in this light, the Democrats and their allies in the MSM would have found it more difficult to bring her down.

I had no doubt watching Palin that she has a future on the national stage.  She stands a better chance than any political figure in America today of becoming our first woman president.  Once she masters the details of national policy, she’s going to cause anyone whoever doubted her to reconsider the hasty judgment they made about her qualifications.

She may not now know the details, but she has shown the capacity for judgment, a quality more important to leadership than an encyclopedic knowledge of the federal government.

Later, last night, I saw John McCain on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  McCain was funny, self-deprecatory, classy.  It took a lot of guts to go before a national audience — and with such grace — so soon after his defeat last week.  Few men could have handled it as well as he did.  Unlike so many politicians this cycle, indeed, politicians in general, McCain has the ability to laugh at himself.

I wish we had seen more of this John McCain on the campaign trail, wish more people had seen him (and his rival) at the Al Smith dinner in New York.  Had they so seen him, they might have more readily have recognized his leadership abilities.

Speaking of that rival, I noted that Leno made no jokes at the expense of the president-elect, focusing more on the defeated Republican vice presidential candidate than the successful Democratic one.

Barack Obama has won election as president.  One of the things which makes our country great is that we can mock our leaders.  It’s time our comics recognize that in making jokes at the expense of a leader, they honor our freedom as they remind those in high offices of their humanity.  Something they need if they are to govern effectively.

How far we’ve fallen

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:50 am - November 12, 2008.
Filed under: American Embarrassments,American History

I finally had the chance to watch the HBO Miniseries John Adams which I bought on DVD several months ago.  As I watched the episode when John Adams (Paul Giamatti) began service as the nation’s first Vice President, it struck me that Joe Biden would be our next Vice President.

From a great, but flawed man to the master of the gaffe.

When not thinking of how the Delaware Democrat has been so spectucularly wrong about nearly every foreign policy issue during his six terms in the Senate, I was impressed with the performances in the mini-series.  I only regret that the filmmakers did not choose to explore the real depth of the friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

They all but left it out of the scenes set in Philadelphia during the Second Continental Congress.  There, the two very different men forged a bond which would last until Adams’ term as president, reviving only in a correpondence after the Virginian left the White House.