The Corner

Libertarians and Gay Marriage

Andrew Sullivan has an oddly misleading (disingenuous?) post about gay marriage this morning. Titled, “Conservatives for Marriage” he writes, “One under-reported aspect of the issue of equal marriage rights is how divided conservatives are.” He then lists a bunch of folks who are for gay marriage: “Jon Rauch, Steve Chapman, Nick Gillespie, Jim Pinkerton, Virginia Postrel, Glenn Reynolds.” Now I don’t know how Steve Chapman would define himself, but he strikes me as more libertarian than conservative. The same certainly goes for Pinkerton. But Sullivan is simply distorting what he surely knows to be the truth when he lumps Nick Gillespie, Virginia Postrel and Glenn Reynolds in the conservative camp. Gillespie — and the magazine he runs — is flatly contemptuous and nasty toward conservatives and their ideas, often to the detriment of his arguments. Postrel is more civil — and by my lights usually much more thoughtful — but she has also gone to great lengths to distance herself from conservatism and, often, to ridicule it. Glenn Reynolds, certainly doesn’t ridicule conservatives, but I’m fairly sure he doesn’t call himself one either. Lastly, there’s Jonathan Rauch. In many ways he’s sui generis. Yes, he’s brilliant and well-respected, and he has some very conservative views. But he is also gay. And on gay issues — much like Sullivan — his sexuality often seems to inform his views more than his conservatism.

As for the bloggers he cites later in his post, I just don’t know enough. But the point remains that Sullivan is overreaching when he claims conservatives are “divided” and then cites as evidence folks who flatly and passionately deny the conservative label. Sullivan’s surely right that conservatives, including George Will, are divided over a Federal Marriage Amendment (I’m still on the fence myself, by the way). But that is a conflation of tactical differences with principled ones.

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