The Corner

The Amazing Power of The Culture (Part 5)

Here’s another way that gay marriage and no-fault divorce are similar: Elites coalesced in favor of this legal change — and firmly downplayed the very idea it could have any cultural effects at all. Unilateral-divorce laws were passed by insider experts, “the best and brightest,” who firmly swore that the objections and reservations of religious people and of the masses were uninformed, ignorant, and unlikely. 

Because, after all, how could letting Anna and Evan disrupt their horrible, violent marriage more easily possibly affect your marriage?

Being Americans, even the smartest among us find institutional effects easy to deny and hard to take into account.

And so the experts banded together to downplay that changing the law of divorce would affect marriage at all. (Read Herbert Jacobs’s The Silent Revolution for the best account of how we got to unilateral no-fault divorce in just a decade).

This, perhaps, is another example of the anti-intellectualism of the intellectuals.

But here’s one big way that unilateral divorce is not like gay marriage: Nobody passed unilteral-divorce laws on the grounds that failing to do so would constitute discrimination, a violation of equal protection.

Unilateral divorce was promoted as some kind of cross between an individual-liberty right, a public-policy good, and a minor administrative change of little consequence to any broad public theme.

The heart of the same-sex marriage argument, by contrast, is this: There is no rational, relevant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples — and anyone who disagrees is engaging in illegitimate discrimination, similar to people who opposed interracial marriage.

I know gay-marriage advocates honestly believe this to be true. That’s not in question. My question is: How can an intellectual both say this and also say that same-sex marriage is not going to affect anyone besides gay couples? (e.g.: How exactly do we treat people and institutions that oppose interracial marriage these days? In law? In culture?)

Is this really a position that is ”smart, civil, and honest” — the standard that Lara Schwartz layed out at the panel at Brookings to discuss the Rauch/Blankenhorn civil-unions proposal? (To be continued. . .)

Most Popular

U.S.

Two Minnesota Republican Candidates Assaulted

Two Republican candidates for state office in Minnesota have been physically assaulted in recent days, leading prominent Republican lawmakers to caution their Democratic colleagues against employing inflammatory rhetoric. Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after ... Read More
PC Culture

Warren Is a Fraud

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been telling a story for years. It’s a deeply romantic story about her parents and their young love, fraught with the familial bigotry of an earlier time. Here’s how she told it this week in a video she released in preparation for her 2020 run: My daddy always said he ... Read More
Elections

The State of the Race for the House

Way back in January, I went through the then-34 seats where a Republican incumbent was retiring and concluded that most were in deeply red districts and not likely to flip to Democrats. Pollsters and media organizations are less inclined to conduct surveys of House races, both because there’s less public ... Read More