Blankenhorn opposes NC marriage ban amendment

Timothy Kincaid

April 11th, 2012

It can sometimes be easy to forget that a principled opposition to marriage equality can exist. Mostly because we very seldom see one.

Usually what is presented in the cause of “protecting marriage” is old fashioned anti-gay animus dressed up as protecting the children or religious liberty of wedding florists or some such. But scratch the surface and it becomes clear that the real motivation is opposing “the evil homosexual agenda”. And while anti-gay activists may claim that they support civil unions (or whatever the least level of support they can claim without alienating a state), they don’t. It’s just a lie to make their anti-gay activism more palatable.

But there are a few – a small handful – who come to their opposition to marriage equality by honest means and genuinely believe that it is in the best interest of society to limit marriage to heterosexuals. One such person is David Blankenhorn. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Blankenhorn was the primary witness in favor of the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in the federal lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

Blankenhorn agreed with the plaintiffs that marriage would be good for gay couples. And, as do most liberal Democrats, he supports gay rights. However, his interest is focused on trying to encourage heterosexual families to remain intact (a laudable goal) and that fathers step up to their responsibilities (another laudable goal) and he believes that same-sex marriage works contrary to those goals (a position that I find wrongheaded).

David Blankenhorn is wrong. The Perry trial was basically an examination of the evidence and it found that David is wrong. And in addition to being wrong on the issue, Blankenhorn assumes the risk of damaging people whom he otherwise likes to advance a position for which he has no empirical evidence in support. Nevertheless, he simply is not in the same category as Brian Brown or Michael Heath.

David’s reputation suffered after the Perry trial. A good many people assumed that he has the same attitudes, biases and prejudices as, well, everyone else on that side of the debate. Some people found his testimony unforgivable and denounced him. I’m certain that it hasn’t been pleasant.

So perhaps that played some part in the editorial he released today with associate Elizabeth Marquardt opposing North Carolina’s constitutional amendment to ban any recognition of same sex couples.

The proposed amendment states that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” That’s a big mouthful, and it goes well beyond the issue of same-sex marriage.

For one thing, it means that North Carolina could not, now or ever, take any step or devise any policy to extend legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples. No domestic partnership laws. No civil unions. Nothing.

That’s mighty cold. If you disdain gay and lesbian persons, and don’t care whether they and their families remain permanently outside of the protection of our laws, such a policy might be your cup of tea. But it’s not our view, and we doubt that it’s the view of most North Carolinians.


April 11th, 2012

Much as I agree that Blankenhorn is one of the most moderate “traditional marriage” advocates, I’m afraid I have some reservations about his bona fides. I remember reading some while back that, while he claims to be a liberal Democrat, his organization, the Institute for American values, received the bulk of its funding from conservative donors (here’s the post at Salon from 2008: I also caught him in an outright fabrication in his claim that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child “specifically guarantees” children the right to be cared for by their biological parents — when, in fact, there is no such thing in the Convention, and the Convention quite specifically recognizes the validity of adoptive families and single-parent families.

It’s nice to see that Blankenhorn has stood up against one of the more outrageous anti-gay amendments floating around, but I’m not ready to give him a pass. He’s been too dishonest in the past.

Priya Lynn

April 11th, 2012

I’m with Hunter.


April 11th, 2012

What part of “separate but equal” am I supposed to accept?

My life as a gay man, and my rights as a gay American citizen are not up for debate. My full participation in society is not to be meted out in degrees or percents or shades of the same participation that straights take as their own without limits or questions.

So Blankenhorn’s opposition is more nuanced than most; he opposes THIS ban on my participation because, down the road, he will support a different ban on it — bans for which, of course, “he has no empirical evidence for support.”

I’m afraid that I don’t see the point.


April 11th, 2012

I’ll give him credit for being half way there but he’s still WAY on the wrong side of right and on the wrong side of history. He’ll be remembered alongside the kind people who didn’t want black people to vote or drink from the same waterfountain instead of with the KKK and George Wallace. I would remind people that it was the kind, sweet racists (like my parents and many in my family) that were the REAL power behind Jim Crow and why it lasted so long, NOT the extremists. So that’s the company he keeps. Not something to be proud of.


April 11th, 2012

It seems to me that Blankenhorn’s views on gay marriage differ from Brown’s in degree, but not in kind. Both believe that if gays can marry, marriage will lose its appeal for heterosexuals,* and the world as we know it will come to an end. Blankenhorn believes that will happen with a whimper, Brown believes it will happen with a bang. Hence the difference in their rhetoric, and in their positions on other forms of legal recognition for gays.

*More specifically, they seem to think that if a woman can marry a woman, marrying a woman won’t seem like a very manly thing to do anymore, and all across America, men will flee their adult responsibilities as husbands and fathers by moving back into their mother’s basements, playing World of Warcraft all day, and, in spare moments, begetting dozens of children out of wedlock.


April 11th, 2012

Why do I have the idea that this is the equivalent of “Of course they’re wrong, separate but equal is right, but we don’t need to turn firehoses and dogs on them.”

Sorry, but if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

Jay Jonson

April 12th, 2012

This is just a career move for Blankenhorn and Marquardt. They bet on the wrong horse when they decided to crusade against same-sex marriage. Now, they realize that their “brand” has been damaged, especially after Blankenhorn’s credentials as an “expert” were shredded in the Prop 8 trial. He has never been able to give a logical rationale for his opposition to same-sex marriage other than the remote possibility that somehow, some unspecified way it will damage the institution of marriage. In any case, I agree with Claude Summers at who says that this editorial is nothing to get excited about, after all the reason he opposes Amendment One is that it harms the “marriage” movement, which he wants to be more effective so that it can continue to deprive us of our rights. (And though Blankenhorn and Marquardt oppose Amendment One because it prohibits not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions, they specifically declare that they are NOT calling for civil unions in North Carolina.) No principle there.

Ben In Oakland

April 12th, 2012

he believes that same-sex marriage works contrary to those goals (a position that I find wrongheaded).

not merely wrong-headed, but demonstrably wrong.


April 12th, 2012

I don’t think its principled to be obstinate, misleading, & untruthful. You might want to reread this gem:

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