June 29, 2005
David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch Debate Gay Marriage
David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch
Last night at the Independent Women’s Forum, David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values, and Jonathan Rauch, author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America debated the issue of gay marriage.
Perhaps one of the more interesting elements of the evening was that I thought Jonathan Rauch made one really important point. He said that as he has been giving speeches about his book, he was surprised when he “found myself having to sell marriage to straight people.”
Sigh. Sad, but true.
I found his definition of marriage also interesting, primarily because it is horribly warped and impoverished. He says that “marriage creates a family” and he defines family as “someone who will be there for you.” While that is, hopefully, true, surely it isn’t the sum total of the marriage definition. It’s an astonishingly self-centered take on a relationship that is largely designed to draw our focus off of ourselves, and requires large doses of other-regard for success.
Because I want to draw your attention to someone else’s opinion on this point, let me digress for a moment to tell you that a highlight of the evening was meeting another blogger at the event! Jen, of the excellent blog Lintefiniel Musing, came with her beau “Beau” (I feel so in-the-know, now that I know his real name! But I kept trying to introduce him as Beau . . .) Anyway, Jen has written an excellent summation/critique of the debate and I love this point that she makes about what marriage is meant to be:
When Beau and I stand before God and family and friends on New Year’s Eve we will not say to one another what we expect to get but what we expect to give. Marriage is not about selfishness – it’s about sacrifice.
The other really fascinating part of the evening was a subtext: David Blankenhorn, who is a leader in the pro-marriage movement, has, in the past, wanted to avoid taking a stand on the gay marriage issue. However, he has now come out solidly and emphatically in opposition to it. He told me after the talk that last night was the first time he has spoken publically about that evolution in his thinking.
David’s argument is that children have a natural right to have two biological parents and that the “deinsitutionalization of marriage” that gay marriage brings “weakens the rights of children.”
He is right about this. But he will face a lot of criticism in the coming days for taking this stand. I applaud him for having the courage and integrity to do so.
See The Volokh Conspiracy raising the question,
If sexual orientation discrimination is logically sex discrimination under constitutional rules, then it would be sex discrimination under statutory rules?