Gay Marriage and Me
Going back to those closing years of the last century, I had become thoroughly weary of the many twists and turns of the gay left, notably the academic fraud known as Queer Theory and the obsession with Identity Politics symbolized by the letters LGBTQ. It was time for a new approach, which my little group seemed to be fostering. The left was on the ropes in this country (a reward, I felt, it richly deserved), while conservatism seemed to be ascendent. It was worth seeing what the new approach had to offer.
Alas, the gay marriage advocates shot themselves in the foot as often as not. First came the Hawaii debacle. I won't rehearse the intricate details. Suffice it to say that the game plan was to secure gay marriage in that state, and then export it throughout the other forty-nine via the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution. We never got that far, but legal friends tell me that this interpretation of FFC, granting immediate national recognition of same-sex marriage, would never fly.
Over the years I saw various utopian claims made about gay marriage that seemed unconvincing. Jonathan Rauch, one of the principle spokespeople of the cause, seemed to think that gay men were "broken" and needed the discipline of gay marriage to rescue them from their dreadful promiscuity and irresponsibility. Gay marriage, it was improbably claimed, was really a conservative device, which would shore up marriage (which many granted needed shoring up). I need scarcely underline that these were fantasies, yet Mr. Rauch remains in high regard.
Then there were the undemocratic means, which failed in Hawaii, while enjoying a success of a sort in Massachusetts. I say "of a sort" because Massachusetts cannot provide federal benefits, which are the most important aspect of legal marriage. When Vermont invented a different solution, Domestic Partnership, that was capable of delivering the benefits of the Massachusetts plan without the name, the SSM purists were aghast. They must have the name. All or nothing. As I noted, they do not have all in Massachusetts, and it seems that that state will be a long time in coming.
The key problem was that the gay marriage advocates approached the issue as a matter of entitlement. Equity demanded that the society grant gay marriage as soon as possible; otherwise we were living in "apartheid." As a historian I pointed out that there were no certain indications of gay marriage in institutional form in any society. Various claims have been made, citing (absurdly) Nero's mock marriage to Sporus and Boswell's mistaken arguments about Byzantine adelphopoiesis (a form of blood brotherhood, not marriage). Gay marriage is a novum. The fact that it is an innovation does not mean that we should not have it--after all the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Canada do. However, these countries do not constitute an irresistable tidal wave--at least not yet.
Then there was the matter of judge shopping. Over and over the gay marriage partisans tried to achieve it by judicial fiat, all the while denying that there was such a thing as activist judges. Fiddlesticks. In the last analysis the comment of Stephen Heersink is acute: Americans dislike coercion in these matters. It was the sense that gays were making an "non-negotiable demand" that, more than anything else, derailed the US gay-marriage movement.
These tactics were deplorable, and they constituted a disservice to the cause they claimed to advance. I should clarify that I have no objection to gay marriage in principle, though it is unlikely that I would ever avail myself of the privilege. But who knows? Never say never.
The point is that it is unlikely that I will have the option--at least in the rest of my present unnatural life. It is best to face facts directly. The cause of gay marriage is dead in this country.
The death of the gay marriage movement, it is said, is due to the irrational objections of evangelical Christians, concentrated in our "reactionary" red states. It's funny, though, that we don't see much enthusiasm in the blue states either. (Maybe Mass. is a bleu state--a fairly rare condition.)
The larger issue is the principle, well attested in the history of our nation, that one does not effect a major social change before bringing the majority along. Of course gay marriage is not supposed to be (according to its advocates) a major change, just a minor definition of marriage. Horse feathers.
The overreaching, and dare I say chicanery of the gay marriage advocates was a major cause of their defeat. Perhaps one day we will have gay marriage in this country--I hope so. But it will not come about by chicanery, legal activism, and other unacceptable ploys. Out people must accept it. We are a long way from that situation now.