Because…

Timothy Kincaid

October 5th, 2011

In our era of identity politics in which positions are often based less on principle than on who else believes it, I find myself marveling at the contortions that folks go through to justify their views. Small government libertarians who find justification for federal intervention into state marriage policy, civil rights activists who argue for excluding rights based on attributes, advocates for religious freedom who propose imposing their moral code on others, champions of tolerance who berate those who dare be of a differing political identity, foes of racism, sexism, and heterosexism who hold conferences with strict race-, sex-, and orientation-based criteria for participation, and defenders of diversity who only know people identical to themselves in all possible relevant ways.

But perhaps the most ironic (and entrenched) identity-based paradox is that of conservative traditionalists who oppose gay marriage. Of all possible expectations that a society can place on its gay citizens (other than the flippant “don’t be gay”), nothing is more traditional or conservative than marriage. Marriage is conformist, often religious, steeped in expectation, bound by socially enforced rules, and – as conservatives are quick to remind us – the bedrock of society, the most basic form of social unit, and an inculcator of values, traditions, and notions about family. Marriage is the smallest of small government. It is the place where a balanced budget is unquestioned, where “spend less” is a shared goal, where “family values” is literal and the only “special rights” are the ones you choose. In a logical world, conservatives would not only support gay marriage, they’d insist on it.

Absent the peculiarities of Social War alliances and doctrinal demands, the natural response of the conservative would be, “Stop all this running around and grow up already. Find someone decent, settle down, get married, and start contributing to society for once, you hippie!” Okay, maybe not the hippie reference, but you know what I mean.

As does the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, David Cameron.

“I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man,” he said.

“You applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage. And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

Blair Martin

October 5th, 2011

This is the same tack I’ve been taking with Australia’s conservative politicians (the Liberal & National Party coalition). I am not a conservative voter or supporter, though I can come across that way (especially rocking up to their offices in the full suit and tie rig!) and do find it odd that I would be in agreeance with David Cameron on any matter, but there it is.

I started using a statement by former Iowa State Senator, Jeff Angelo (R) – http://iowarepublicansforfreedom.com/2011/04/ which encompasses clearly why someone who promotes themselves as being “conservative” should fully support marriage equality. Truly, the only people that cannot be reached with the arguments for marriage equality are the terribly fundamentalist religious folk (but, even then I’ve discovered opportunities to challenge them!)

Thanks Tim for bringing Cameron’s statement to our attention. It is a valuable asset in the battle to enact full marriage equality.

Nick Thiwerspoon

October 5th, 2011

I’ve always thought it bizarre that the conservatives should be so hostile towards gay marriage. Your argument is exactly the one I’d use. And of course, it’s why some gays are “agin” gay marriage: it’s (in effect) bowing down to the majority.

Richard Rush

October 5th, 2011

In a logical world, conservatives would not only support gay marriage, they’d insist on it.

A problem is that the people you are talking about are not conservatives. It is a perversion of a perfectly good word. They insist on self-identifying with that label because it apparently bestows some elevated esteem. And everyone else allows them to get away with it. We need a new word. I’m leaning towards “controlatives” – and that’s because I’m feeling uncharacteristically respectful today.

San Diego Rob

October 5th, 2011

You gotta love his balls…… it would be nice if our president had balls….

BlackDog

October 5th, 2011

Wow, someone with a logically consistent world view in politics, I’m shocked!

CPT_Doom

October 5th, 2011

@ richard rush – that is brilliance personified

Chip

October 5th, 2011

@Richard Rush:

I believe the word you’re searching for is “authoritarians.”

iDavid

October 6th, 2011

And we broke from Britian becaaaause…….

Other Fred in the UK

October 6th, 2011

While I not suggesting Cameron is a coward, backing gay-marriage is backing a winning horse in Britain. Voters who oppose gay marriage have no one to vote for that would affect Parliamentary arithmetic.

Whilst it would be wonderful to see President Obama show such moral leadership, it would require political courage bordering on martyrdom.

Andrew

October 6th, 2011

In 1995, back when he was smokin hot (and before he got portly and bearded), Andrew Sullivan wrote a non-fiction book called “Virtually Normal”. (And yes, Andrew, I’m still sorry for drunkenly hitting on you in that bar in P-town in 1996, but hey, when a hot intellectual guru who changes your life turns up in public, on vacation, well, who’s going to let that opportunity pass you by? I still think you should have gone home with me, but I appreciate you not getting a restraining order.)

This book changed my life – it gave me language and structure to frame ideas and feelings I had but couldn’t fully wrap my head around because I was trapped by wrong assumptions, old rules, and other peoples’ language.

Sullivan does something fascinating – he breaks politics out of stale “liberal / conservative” duality and views this issue (and others) like a compass — with Liberationist / Prohibitionist views on one axis, and Liberal / Conservative ideas on the other access.

He followed this up the following year with an anthology of arguments around the issue of gay marriage.

Interestingly, the strongest argument FOR gay marriage, which is identical to Cameron’s, came from the thoughtful conservatives. I can’t help but wonder if Sullivan won’t ultimately be a strong influencer on successful conservatives, and provide them with a roadmap to do the right thing, while framing the argument in a way that their fellow (less thoughtful) conservatives can digest and accept.

Blake

October 6th, 2011

I’m with Richard, the meaning of “Conservative” (Big C)depends on context. Contrast Cameron’s vision with Gingrich’s prediction. Both men represent “Conservative” viewpoints. Cameron is intellectually honest while the American Conservative is often opposed to or suspicious of intellectualism. Gingrich’s Conservatism is a dead-end philosophy of high-nostalgia whilst Cameron’s is attempting to extend conservative (little c) principles to a new class of people. He is attempting to make an institution, Marriage, more perfect in a free society. In that since he is acting as a liberal (classically). Andrew, I would really like to read Sullivan’s book. Right now my viewpoint is shaped by an essay: F.A. Hayek’s “Why I am Not a Conservative”. You can find it by googling it. The basic premises sound similar.

Andrew

October 6th, 2011

Blake, Sullivan would probably term Gingrich a Prohibitionist rather than a conservative – and I prefer that term for someone who shuffles papers for his third divorce while pushing DOMA legislation through Congress with no sense of irony. The fact is, conservatives should tell Conservatives to stop using their name in vain.

MattNYC

October 6th, 2011

@Andrew

To be fair *second* divorce (he’s “only” up to wife No. 3).

Stephanie Miller likes to joke that she hopes Callista doesn’t sneeze around Newt–he may start looking for a healthy, vivacious young PA to accompany him on trips where he can become overwhelmed by his “love for America.”

Robert

October 8th, 2011

Blair,
your reference to “Virtually Normal” reminded me. When my husband brought that book home so long ago, my first reaction to it was ‘what assimilationist trash!’ I came out ino a relatively liberationist social milieu in the late ’70s, when I was a senior in high school.

Now, at fifty, my husband and I are legally married, with two legally adopted sons, living in suburban Oakland CA. We belong to the PTA, are recognized as a couple everywhere we go – even my Masonic lodge.

In short, I wound up being even more ‘virtually normal’ than Sullivan. The humor is not lost on my husband.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1854: The Surprising Twists and Turns of a Cross-Dressing Case In London

Today In History, 1927: "The Well of Loneliness" Published

Today In History, 1969: Gay Liberation Front Organizes First Post-Stonewall March Against Police Harassment

Today In History, 1978: New Jersey Senator: "We Used To Beat Them Up"

Born On This Day, 1919: Martin Block

Born On This Day, 1927: Fr. Robert Carter, SJ

Born On This Day, 1940: Rev. Troy Perry

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.