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Frum on New York Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

June 27th, 2011

David Frum is a conservative Republican.

He served in the George W Bush White House, was a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and wrote for the National Review. Although he has been, in more recent years, harshly critical of the Republican Party and some of their less intellectually competent political candidates, there is no questioning that Frum is a conservative Republican.

And Frum has been a vocal opponent of marriage equality. Noting the growing instability of the family and the associated social problems that statistically increase with divorce, single parenting, and out-of-wedlock parenting, Frum viewed same-sex marriage as but one aspect of a culture that had generally devalued marriage. And in 1997 he engaged in an on-line debate with Andrew Sullivan on the subject.

But those of us who oppose gay marriage, and we remain the majority at least for now, believe that these new values are not changing the family–they are destroying it, and harming those within it. As such beliefs become more widespread, so do divorce and illegitimacy. The proponents of gay marriage can only get what they want by weakening Americans’ attachment to the traditional family even more than it has already been weakened. And as such, these proponents are hastening a process of social dissolution that has already brought misery to untold millions of people, with children suffering most grievously of all.

So one might expect Frum to be furious – or at least saddened – by New York’s marriage equality bill. One would be wrong.

Writing in CNN today, Frum said

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state’s vote to authorize same-sex marriage — a vote that probably signals that most of “blue” states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don’t think I’m alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm — if not outright approval — to New York’s dramatic decision.

Why?

The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

The sky didn’t fall. As same-sex marriage gained recognition in a handful of states, the family structure didn’t continue to spiral into disarray. In fact, there have been no known negative social ramifications that can be directly linked to expanding the marriage institution to include same-sex families.

And so Frum did what an honorable person should do, he admitted his error.

In the heat of debate, it can sometimes be difficult to see our opponents as admirable. It’s much simpler to see them as vile bigots who are motivated by hate and religious extremism. And some are.

But there are also a good many people who oppose marriage equality out of a legitimate concern for the future of the family structure. They fear that same-sex marriage is another challenge to their efforts at restoring respect for the institution and the social contract that it entails.

They are wrong.

But while they are wrong, they are not bigots. And we will see a great many more who, like Frum, have publicly fought us but are honest enough to recognize – and admit – that they were wrong.

Let’s be gracious in welcoming them to our side.

Comments

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Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “But there are also a good many people who oppose marriage equality out of a legitimate concern for the future of the family structure.”.

LOL, and I’m the queen of England.

Timothy said “But while they are wrong, they are not bigots.”.

See above.

K in VA
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

I suspect New York was the wake-up call that will move many movement conservatives over to supporting marriage equality.

You can ask what took them so long. You can question their past motives. You can even damn them for what they said and did in the past.

Or you can simply say, “Welcome.”

CPT_Doom
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Although it is great to see another conservative admit the mistake, as with Mr. Mehlman it would be nice to see some acknowledgement of the damage his opposition has caused innocent LGBT families and individuals.

Ben In Oakland
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

I find myself strangely untroubled about Mr. Frum’s change of heart. Maybe becuase the handwriting is on the wall as much as that the whole things was a steaming pile of nonsense, but creally good fofr getting the base all excited??

Gee, mr. frum, thanks so much.

Back when you were against marriage equality, you couldn’t be bothered to do any research, any thinking, or engagement with fact, logic, or experience­. Compassion and understand­ing? A complete stranger.

But now that the handwritin­g is on the wall, you are strangely untroubled­.

Why don’t you make up for your years of unreason? This article is a start.

Matt
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

“Timothy said “But there are also a good many people who oppose marriage equality out of a legitimate concern for the future of the family structure.

LOL, and I’m the queen of England.”

We’re all impressed by your ability to respond to others in bad faith, Priya.

I personally know people who were against gay marriage and who have changed their minds. People who were wrong, and who have realized that they were wrong. They were concerned about what they saw in the world around them — absentee fathers, lots of divorce, etc. — stuff that MOST people are concerned about — and they made a mistake in assuming/concluding that gay marriage would further move marriage away from fundamental goods like fidelity, responsibility, and shared sacrifice. They were the people Timothy is writing about. If you think they don’t exist, what that suggests to me is that you are one of those people who makes a point of only associating with those who already agree with you and who can be counted on to reinforce what you already believe. I used to be like that, but I don’t think it’s conducive to getting an accurate picture of the world.

Matt
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid — one quibble. Frum is not a “conservative” Republican. You list his bona fides as a Republican, sure, but he’s not a conservative one — if he used to be, he isn’t one now. He certainly doesn’t write for NRO anymore.

You wouldn’t say Joe Leiberman is a “liberal” Democrat just because he was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, would you?

Hyhybt
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

“But while they are wrong, they are not bigots. And we will see a great many more who, like Frum, have publicly fought us but are honest enough to recognize – and admit – that they were wrong.

Let’s be gracious in welcoming them to our side.”—APPLAUSE HERE

“Back when you were against marriage equality, you couldn’t be bothered to do any research, any thinking, or engagement with fact, logic, or experience . Compassion and understand ing? A complete stranger.”—Sometimes it’s hard to trust research; either there simply isn’t enough of it, or you don’t trust those who did it to be unbiased, or whatever. There’s something about seeing something in action in the real world, and in like situations (Canada and some US states, not off in Europe somewhere) that’s far more undeniable.

Can people not legitimately change their minds?

PLAINTOM
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Will these people who admit they were wrong do two simple things. Admit they helped in the political and cultural attacks which inflicted real damage on LGBT families and individuals. Put forth the same level of effort to pass marriage equality as they expended attacking marriage equality.

Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Matt said “We’re all impressed by your ability to respond to others in bad faith, Priya.”.

I never respond in bad faith matt, I call them as I see them. You want to disagree, fine, but for you to suggest I’m insincere is in itself bad faith.

If you think they don’t exist, what that suggests to me is that you are one of those people who makes a point of only associating with those who already agree with you and who can be counted on to reinforce what you already believe.”.

You couldn’t be further off base. The vast majority of people I associate with don’t agree with me. For example, every single one is a theist and I happen to believe they’re very wrong about that.

Matt next time try talking about something you know about, rather than assuming things about me based on what massages your ego rather than what is reality.

Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

That third paragraph in my post above was a quote of Matt.

Matt
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

How old are you, Priya?

Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

A woman never tells Matt.

Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Oh what the hey, I’ll give you a hint:

Over 30

Matt
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

“A woman never tells Matt.”

Ah-ha! So you COULD be the queen of England!
(She’s over 30, I believe…)

Priya Lynn
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Damn! My secret’s out!

TampaZeke
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

And many ARE just Bigots even if they are offended by being called such. I’ve never heard of a bigot who DIDN’T take offense to being called a bigot.

Richard Rush
June 27th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said,

But there are also a good many people who oppose marriage equality out of a legitimate concern for the future of the family structure.

I tend to think that’s mostly used as a smokescreen to give their position a veneer of respectability or seriousness. I think the truth is that they find homosexuality viscerally disgusting, and/or they are so ignorant that they fear their kids can be taught to be gay, and/or they are afraid of what their neighbors will think if they support gays.

In Frum’s case, I’m pleased that he changed his position, but I’m really not too impressed. Socially and professionally it’s relatively easy to support marriage equality in 2011, but in 1997 it was not. He waited until after many other people, much more courageous than him, paved the way to make it safe for him to support us in 2011.

But in the end, though, the thing that really matters is that they come to support us. It doesn’t matter so much how they get there.

mikenola
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

a change of heart, a moderation of viewpoint or an outright rejection of ones past mistakes are all part of a process for normal human beings.

for those that have historically been politicians or wanted to shape politics the normal human being label does not fit so well. much like a young kid wearing their dads shirt, the fit is visibly awkward and sometimes troubling.

For the likes of Frum and his new position of ‘oh, I guess nothing bad happened’ I have to agree with many of the posters; Great you finally “saw the light” now what are you going to do to atone for your egregious sins of trying to destroy us based on your uniformed bigotry?

That type of person does nothing that publicly harms their personal agenda. Basically they are willing to jump on the band wagon of the side they view as “winning”. That makes them suspect and we should hold a jaundiced view of their words until their actions match up to those words.

Rob in San Diego
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

David Frum say’s “And as such, these proponents are hastening a process of social dissolution that has already brought misery to untold millions of people, with children suffering most grievously of all.”

Really David, we are the cause of all heterosexual problems. Did we force you to get married to someone you don’t love, did we force you to have kids, did we force you to get a divorce?

Most of us are not having kids, some of us have and are bringing them into awesome families.

The only kids who are suffering are the kids who are young and are still in the closet because you can’t accept them for who they are!

Reed Boyer
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Nice pro forma acknowledgment of reality.

It would be even nicer if it were an endorsement of marriage equality, and (as PlainTom notes) accompanied by the same amount of energy, time, and resources to get marriage equality “done for all” by working to repeal DOMA.

Ben In Oakland
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Hyhybt– people can change their minds after learning something new. I’m glad that he has changted his muind, now that it is safe to do so and won’t cost him a thing.

But for me, and for the sake of intellectual honesty, before I stake out any positon, i make sure that fact, logic, and experience are employed first, rather than ideology.

That’;s why I’m not so sure as Timothy that all of this concern for the declining family is anything but a convenient mask for bigotry.

Priya Lynn
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said,

But there are also a good many people who oppose marriage equality out of a legitimate concern for the future of the family structure.

Richard replied “I tend to think that’s mostly used as a smokescreen to give their position a veneer of respectability or seriousness. I think the truth is that they find homosexuality viscerally disgusting, and/or they are so ignorant that they fear their kids can be taught to be gay, and/or they are afraid of what their neighbors will think if they support gays.”.

Eggsactly. From what is clear to me from the anti-marriage family and friends I have its also a matter of thinking gays are inferior and if they are allowed to marry that says “I’m not better than them and that offends me.” – a lot of social conservatives are loath to give up feeling superior to someone else. People aren’t going to readily admit to such reasons for opposing equal marriage, they’re going to pretend they have “a “legitimate” concern for the future of the family structure.”

Timothy Kincaid
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

For those insisting that Frum “do as much”, you may wish to consider the following:

Frum’s opposition was primarily in the form of a 1997 on-line debate. Think, for a moment, about the reach of an on-line debate in 1997. Intellectual, direct, theoretical, and very very wonky, but not very visible (were you online in 1997?).

And just who the hell was discussing same-sex marriage in 1997? This was six years before Hawaii’s supreme court was the first to find marriage laws discriminatory. California’s very limited domestic partnership law was still two years away.

And Frum’s public reversal (“I was wrong”) was via a CNN opinion as response to a very visible vote. Lots and lots and lots of folks saw – and read – this timely and relevant op-ed.

In other words, in response to Frum’s virtually unseen opposition to marriage equality, he reversed himself in a medium that reached many many times the people his original comments reached.

Timothy Kincaid
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Why don’t they believe us when we say that we don’t want to destroy civilization? Perhaps it’s because we call them liars when they say they are concerned about changes in social contracts and how those changes will impact the family structure.

Perhaps instead of imputing evil intent on each other, lets listen to what each of us are saying. I know it’s not nearly as fun as Culture War, but unlike Culture War it can lead to positive results.

Ben In Oakland
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you have a point.

Yet, at the same time, as i said in my first posting, even a little bit of logic and experience would, or should, lead one to question those ocnclusions.

Ben In Oakland
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Actually, I will ad something more.

In 1976, when the californuia legislature finally repealed the sodomy laws, the Chriustian conservatives were proclaiming that this was a direct attacjk on the hetero family, and in as many words. They did the same with gay rights laws. They did the same with the earlier DP’s. They did the same with the more robust DP’s. They have never stopped doing it.

Archbishop dolan repeated the same lies as recently as last week. Hetero men were just waiting for gay marriage to be approved so that they could start shagging their mothers and destroy the ttraditional family unit.

Frum is supposed to be an intelligent man. where does intellect stop, and ideology begin?

Timothy Kincaid
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Ben,

Yes. And, in Frum’s case, experience did lead him to question his conclusions and to find that they were incorrect.

That will happen more and more. Let’s not fire cannons at those who do change their conclusion.

Priya Lynn
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy asked “Why don’t they believe us when we say that we don’t want to destroy civilization?”.

They do believe us. The just claim not to because they want a facade to cover their real motives – animosity towards gays and lesbians and a desire to feel superior.

Priya Lynn
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

No one honestly thinks gays are seeking marriage rights as a means to destroying civilization, that’s simply too stupid for anyone to believe.

Hyhybt
June 28th, 2011 | LINK

Priya: It’s incredibly stupid, but not so stupid that there aren’t people who really do believe it. And of course many who don’t believe that’s the intent still believe it will be the result.

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