A post (and the ensuing comment thread) my friend David Boaz linked today on Facebook reminded me why I have been so reluctant in recent days to re-enter the gay marriage fray.
For many years, particularly when I was in college and law school and working in Washington, D.C.’s public policy sector, I read widely about a great variety of issues, including social issues like marriage and child-rearing. Conservative organizations presented much solid research on the social benefits of traditional marriage and the damaging effects of divorce.
I had always wondered why so few advocates of gay marriage looked at that research on traditional marriage in order to suggest that it could be applied to same-sex unions as well. I am only aware of one group which has done so and blogged about it here.
In the current debate, instead of acknowledging the social conservatives’ broader point, all too many advocates merely repeat their slogans about “fairness” and “equality” while badmouthing anyone who would dare disagree with them, calling them “haters” –even going so far as to label hateful those who, like James Taranto, believe the Supreme Court should uphold “Proposition 8 and leave . . . the matter for the states to decide.”
And whereas the gay left have engaged in name-calling (if you don’t believe me, just check your Facebook feed), the social conservative opponents of gay marriage have been little better. Which brings me to David’s link, leading to his own post where he takes aim at “Jim DeMint, former senator and future president of the Heritage Foundation” for attempting in a USA Today op-ed to link “family breakdown” and “welfare spending” to state recognition of gay marriage.
Yes, there is considerable evidence that welfare spending undermines the family unit — and is bad for children. And there is also considerable evidence that divorce is bad for children. But, Mr. DeMint, like many social conservatives making similar arguments, fails to show how state recognition of gay marriage is bad for children. Or for society. The former Senator, as David puts it, just makes his case “with a sleight of hand.”
Like those gay marriage advocates who slur their adversaries as “haters”, Mr. DeMint dodges the real issues by conflating social concerns that are only tangentially related to same-sex marriage. Despite his crazy logical leap, maybe we should at least credit him with refusing to engage in name-calling.
Even though he is more civil than some of his counterparts on the gay left, his commentary serves a similar end, dodging a serious debate on the social importance of state-sanctioned marriage and the merits of extending those benefits to same-sex couples.
NB: Tweaked the post a little.