Mary Cheney

I keep getting this email about how it’s somehow hypocritical of me and/or NRO not to denounce Mary Cheney (I suspect you-know-who is behind much of it). As views vary widely around here about such things I’ll just speak for myself and say: I don’t get it. Partisans on both sides want the Mary Cheney pregnancy to be about gay marriage. The gay rights crowd wants to exploit Cheney’s pregnancy for their political agenda. So does the Concerned Women crowd. Putting aside the tackiness of both sides, as far as I’m concerned it simply isn’t about gay marriage. Indeed, one of the reasons I’ve long argued that the battle against gay marriage is likely to be a losing one is that the issue of gay adoption was already conceded without much of a fight. It’s very difficult to make the lynchpin of your opposition to gay marriage “the children” when gays have been allowed to either adopt, have, or otherwise maintain custody of children for a long time now. We are currently in a weird situation in that gay couples get kids all the time without the benefit of being “married” while gay marriage opponents claim that gay couples shouldn’t get married because it would be bad for kids. That horse left the barn.

Regardless, whatever you think about gay marriage or gay parenting, the fact is the two issues are essentially on different policy and political tracks. Personally, as someone who  came out in favor of civil unions years ago, I’m at a loss as to why my reluctance to demonize, never mind criticize, Mary Cheney makes me a hypocrite to liberals. Indeed, I’m all ears to learn where or when I’ve personally criticized any specific gay person for their desire to have kids (or get married). The simple fact is that my opposition to gay marriage is pretty much entirely principled and prudential. I know and like plenty of gay people and I personally don’t see huge amounts of evidence that gay marriage is demonstrably more dangerous to civilization than no-fault divorce has been (which doesn’t mean making the problem worse is the answer). What seems to bother a lot of pro-gay marriage obsessives is that I don’t think it’s the signature civil rights issue of our day. I just don’t get that worked up about it, at least not anymore, and this lack of passion is interpreted by zealots as cowardice, strategic silence or bigotry. It’s really none of the above.

Now, I can certainly see why my position makes me a squish in the eyes of some social conservatives (another refrain in my email box). And I do agree with, or am intellectually sympathetic to, many of their principled arguments on this stuff (depending on which social conservatives and which arguments we’re talking about).

But I guess my only real point is that what’s patently shabby here is this: I’ve gotten piles of email from people egging me on to demonize Mary Cheney. To date, all of them have been from liberals and gay-marriage obsessives. It’s tails-we-win-heads-you-lose baiting. If I criticize her, I’m a jerk. If I don’t, I’m a coward who doesn’t have the courage of my bigotry, to paraphrase one reader. It’s all intellectually tawdry nonsense. What they’re really cranky about is that I won’t — and don’t — play into their convenient stereotype, which is what they want me to do. As for Mary Cheney and her baby, they’re still just props.

Update: This reader gets my drift:

You take a reasonable stance on this Mary Cheney thing: none at all. As for me, I hope she’s a good mother. I hope her partner’s a good mother. And I hope one day they’re able to marry. But in the meantime, I’m thrilled for new life in the world. I always am!

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. © 2018 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.