The Corner

Re: Krauthammer

Jonah, you beat me to first polygamy post of the day. But I’ll put in my two cents about “Pandora and Polygamy,” where Charles Krauthammer reiterates his belief in the slippery-slope argument. The interesting thing here is Krauthammer’s ambivalence over the gay marriage issue.

Krauthammer claims that gay marriage and polygamy are merely symptoms of marital decline, not causes. Gay marriage and polygamy are indeed symptomatic of marital decline. Yet it’s not credible to view them only as symptoms, and not also as significant reinforcing causes of marital decline. Krauthammer seems to me to be prematurely writing off marriage, so as not to put himself at odds (in his own telling) with gay friends. I think this vastly underestimates the degree to which, despite all the problems, marriage is still a functioning institution. (For more, see my “Strange Bedfellows.”)

So as I see it, Krauthammer leaves marriage for dead, and closes his eyes to the very significant additional trouble that gay marriage and polygamy will cause, so as not to put himself at odds with friends he understandably sympathizes with. It’s a position many are in. Unfortunately, this very stance shows how damaging the movement for gay marriage has been. Genuine sympathy, combined with the desire to avoid accusations of bigotry, have led many to write off an institution that was in fact recuperating reasonably well in the wake of welfare reform and the triumph of the “Dan Quayle Was Right” argument. The idea that our only choice is between a return to the fifties and the slow, inevitable death of marriage is a cop out forced on us by the discomfort of saying no to same-sex marriage. That evasion easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. But rather than cop out entirely, Krauthammer actually does something courageous by honestly articulating the genuine dilemma that he and so many are in.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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