The Corner

Culture

‘The Same-Sex Marriage Bait-and-Switch’

I’d urge everyone to read Jonathan Last’s Weekly Standard cover story. Focusing on the extent to which many of the arguments for same-sex marriage were disingenuous from the start, he notes that some of the most vehemently argued positions may soon be discarded now that the gay marriage argument seems culturally ascendant. Two of them stood out to me. Remember how gay people are all “born this way” and thus any discrimination was the moral equivalent of racism? Well, maybe not:

Then there’s the matter of the roots of homosexuality. Important to the narrative behind the same-sex marriage movement has been the insistence that sexual orientation is genetically determined and not a choice. But now that same-sex marriage is a reality, some activists are admitting that this view might not, strictly speaking, be true. For instance, in the avant-garde webzine n+1, Alexander Borinsky argued that sexuality is a characteristic to be actively constructed by the self. He was making a philosophical argument from the safety of gay marriage’s now-dominant position. Others were less philosophical and more practical. Here, for instance, is how the dancer and writer Brandon Ambrosino tackled the subject in the New Republic in January 2014: “[I]t’s time for the LGBT community to start moving beyond genetic predisposition as a tool for gaining mainstream acceptance of gay rights. .  .  .”

Remember how the gay community wants to join the institution of marriage, not redefine it? Perhaps that’s not true either. Last quotes gay activist Jay Michelson:

Moderates and liberals have argued that same-sex marriage is No Big Deal—it’s the Same Love, after all, and gays just want the same lives as everyone else. But further right and further left, things get a lot more interesting. What if gay marriage really will change the institution of marriage, shifting conceptions around monogamy and intimacy? . . .

[T]here is some truth to the conservative claim that gay marriage is changing, not just expanding, marriage. According to a 2013 study, about half of gay marriages surveyed (admittedly, the study was conducted in San Francisco) were not strictly monogamous.

his fact is well-known in the gay community—indeed, we assume it’s more like three-quarters. But it’s been fascinating to see how my straight friends react to it. Some feel they’ve been duped: They were fighting for marriage equality, not marriage redefinition. Others feel downright envious, as if gays are getting a better deal, one that wouldn’t work for straight couples. . . .

What would happen if gay non-monogamy—and I’ll include writer Dan Savage’s “monogamish” model, which involves extramarital sex once a year or so—actually starts to spread to straight people? Would open marriages, ’70s swinger parties, and perhaps even another era’s “arrangements” and “understandings” become more prevalent? Is non-monogamy one of the things same-sex marriage can teach straight ones, along with egalitarian chores and matching towel sets?

These points would have been far more consequential to the public had there been a functioning marketplace of ideas. Yet outside of conservative media, there hasn’t been a true debate about same-sex marriage in years. The Left, however, may be showing its cards a bit prematurely. Walled off in the coastal bubble, leading liberals assume the battle’s over, everyone who matters agrees with them, and all that’s left is the vicious mop-up operation. While it’s likely that the Supreme Court will legalize gay marriage everywhere — either by creating a constitutional right or by requiring states to recognize lawful same-sex marriages from other states — the battle for religious liberty will rage on, and in that battle the Left’s deceptiveness and aggression may well lead to its cultural and constitutional defeat. 

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