Earlier this month, when I was talking with my friend Dale Carpenter, that distinguished columnist and law professor held that many gay activists see gay marriage as a “trophy in the cultural wars.” That is, they’re not so much interested in the ancient institution as in the political victory of winning state recognition of same-sex marriages.
Dale’s words came to mind as I considered my letter asking my Congressman to refer Barney Frank to the House Ethics Committee because of the Massachusetts Democrat’s romantic relationship with a man who worked for an institution (Fannie Mae) while Frank served on a committee which oversaw its operations.
Shouldn’t this conflict concern those who value relationships?
If gay activists saw marriage as more than just a political trophy, they would understand that state recognition of marriage while conferring benefits on the relationship, also demands obligations from the partners. Their obsession with the notion of equality should mean they want to hold gay marriages to the same standards as traditional ones.
Now, granted Frank was not married to Herb Moses at the time the latter worked for Fannie Mae. Indeed, at the time, no state recognized gay marriages. But, they were in a committee relationship.
Shouldn’t it concern advocates of gay marriage that the most outspoken and publicly visible gay politician had such a conflict of interest? Wouldn’t they, in calling him on it, show their commitment to a standard of gay relationship equal to that of heterosexual ones?
I doubt any of them gave even a second thought to the revelation last fall of this conflict, if they had even heard of it. That (D) after Frank’s name renders him immune from criticism.
But, I think it’s more than just his partisan affiliation. It seems some of them haven’t thought through thoroughly what marriage means.
It would be a good test of their commitment to gay marriage to see if they would publicly at least criticize Mr. Frank for his conflict of interest, if not joining me in asking their Representative to refer this matter to the House Ethics Committee.
I have some e-mails to write.