Just When You Think You’ve Seen Everything . . .

by Michael Potemra

Earlier this week, I was surprised to learn — from Bob Costa’s piece — that prominent conservative intellectual John Bolton supports gay marriage.

Well, life just handed me a plateful of “You don’t know from surprised.” In the new issue of Commonweal, Jody Bottum has a fascinating and brave article making a Catholic case for same-sex marriage. That a Catholic supports same-sex marriage is not the big news here — after all, most Catholics support gay marriage. No, the big story here is that a true-blue social-conservative Catholic has endorsed gay marriage.

Just how conservative a Catholic is Jody Bottum? One little personal anecdote. A few years ago he and I served together on a committee putting together a list of right-wing books all conservatives should read — he as literary editor of The Weekly Standard, I as literary editor of National Review. I hosted a meeting of this committee at our magazines NYC office. As we were getting under way, Jody said that we really ought to start with a prayer — and he proceeded to say one. In. Latin.

A social-conservative friend, a strong opponent of gay marriage, was telling me last night she thinks the fight on gay marriage is over. I was somewhat more skeptical of her opinion last night than I am now. In any case, for me, the important issue going forward is less gay marriage itself than making sure that religious and other people who dissent from the emerging consensus have their right to dissent protected in law. Dissent can indeed be a very high form of patriotism — a fact that remains true whether a Democratic or Republican administration is office, and remains true whether or not I agree with the content of the dissenting view.