The Corner

Missing My Point Ii

Which brings me to the second area where I think Andrew is unfair to what I wrote. He writes:

Jonah also rebuts the civil rights argument that the denial of same-sex marriage is equivalent to the denial of inter-racial marriage. Why? Jonah argues that it’s because no blacks back in the 1960s entertained radical notions about marriage and family life. Really? Has he read much cultural history? In 1967, when blacks first won the constitutional right to marry whom they pleased, you could also have had a front-page story in the New York Times citing many blacks who disapproved of inter-racial marriage. A hefty plurality still do. Would Jonah have written a column saying: “See? Those negroes don’t even want to marry whites! Why should we debase this sacred institution for just a few of those people who don’t represent most blacks anyway?”

This strikes me as a deliberate misreading. The point isn’t whether a majority of blacks favored interracial marriage. The reason the analogy between gays and blacks doesn’t hold, is that blacks who argued for interracial marriage didn’t say that A) they should be allowed the freedom to marry and B) in order to accommodate blacks, the fundamental nature of the institution should be re-written beyond simply amending the racial prohibitions. Blacks said they wanted the internal rules of matrimony to apply to them just like everybody else. That, as I understood it, was the argument for gay marriage. But as the Times article suggests, a lot of folks who want gay marriage legalized don’t really believe that the rules of the institution should apply to them the same way. They want the social approval legalization confers, sure, but not the hard work the institution entails.

Here, I think, a better analogy is to be found in the arguments of feminists. They said women should be allowed to be firefighters, for example. However, since it’s unfair to ask women to be able to carry as much weight as men, they argued, the physical requirements should be amended to accommodate women. Now we’re seeing the first signs that the cultural left will not stop at equal opportunity. Rather, they will argue that it’s “unfair” to hold same-sex couples to the same boring rules we hold traditional couples to. Maybe I’m making too much of “Fab” and the Times, but I got the distinct sense that this article was a harbinger of a cultural assault. Indeed, if Andrew is sincere in all of his talk about Lincoln-Douglass debates and all that – and I am sure he is – then I’m curious why his finely tuned New York Times radar didn’t ping at all on this story.

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