The Corner

Sullivan and Me

As far as I can tell, Andrew’s response to me deals with none of the points that I made. He correctly observes that National Review’s editors objects to gay equality, if such equality is understood to require same-sex marriage. This is not, I take it, news to anyone. But Sullivan is wrong to insist that the magazine’s “bedrock position” on a constitutional amendment is that there should be no governmental recognition of same-sex relationships. The editorial in question says that an amendment need not require this principle of non-recognition, and that what is more important is that the amendment reserve the right to make decisions about gay marriage, civil unions, and the like to legislatures rather than courts. When an editorial specifically says that point B should be sacrificed for point A, I don’t see how Point B can be held to be its “bedrock position.” That is so even if, once the legislature was in charge, NR would have different views than Andrew Sullivan on what it should do. Nor do I see how an amendment to reserve decisions to legislatures can fairly be said to be “motivated entirely by animus toward gay couples.”

It is true that nobody proposed an amendment to block other policy changes that have, in the view of their opponents, weakened marriage. Is this because the proponents of the amendment have a special animus toward gays, or a particular objection to gay marriage? Well, maybe. But it’s also true that there would have been no point to an amendment to block the judicial imposition of no-fault divorce, since that policy was set by legislatures.

If my previous post on this subject had a “bedrock” point, it was that Sullivan had failed to deal with the purely anti-judicial amendment that the editorial recommends as a fallback position (a compromise that is, I would add, not all that far from one that Sullivan has himself proposed). That failure continues.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.