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The New Republic Rips Apart Gay Marriage Opposition

May 28, 2009

Jonathan Chait at The New Republic has a great piece on the paper thin argument against gay marriage.  He clearly articulates what makes the position of so many so frustrating.  How do you respond to a conclusion that is “supported” by citing the conclusion.  It’s answering “why” with “because.”  

Both these arguments rest upon simple tautologies. Expanding a right to a new group deprives the rest of us of our right to deny that right to others. If making a right less exclusive devalues it, then any extension of rights is an imposition upon those who were not previously excluded–i.e., women’s suffrage makes voting less special for men.

Further on in the piece, he addresses the issue that somehow letting gay people marry impact the way that straight people think about this commitment.

The most striking thing about anti-gay-marriage arguments is that they dwell exclusively on how heterosexuals would be affected. Heather Mac Donald of the conservative Manhattan Institute writes, “I fear that it will be harder than usual to persuade black men of the obligation to marry the mother of their children if the inevitable media saturation coverage associates marriage with homosexuals.”

I suppose you could imagine, somewhere, a black man telling his friends he’s going to propose to his pregnant girlfriend, only to be taunted, “Marriage? That’s so gay,” and think better of it. I don’t find this very likely. Neither does Mac Donald, actually. “[I]f someone can persuade me that the chances are zero, then I would be much more sanguine,” she writes. “But anything more than zero, I am reluctant to risk.”

Finally, Chait raises a National Review editorial that I hadn’t seen.

Dismissing the argument that marriage might foster more stable gay relationships, the magazine’s editors replied curtly, “[T]hese do not strike us as important governmental goals.”  There’s a word for social policy that disregards the welfare of one class of citizens: discrimination.

In addition to his point, I would add that the opposition to gay marriage is often centered on the idea that it is strengthening “traditional marriage.”  What the National Review is implicitly stating is that maintaining the strength of heterosexual relationships is an important governmental goal, but doing the same for gays and lesbians is not an important goal.  Chait is right, that is, quite simply, discrimination.

h/t The Daily Beast

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