Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Deep" Thought: #25: A "Marriage Defense" Two-For-One

Some "marriage defenders" have this bizarre idea that marriage equality is a high-profile issue only because marriage equality advocates have made it one. I think some of them genuinely see themselves as neutral policy wonks just trying to make it all silently go away as opposed to people who are busy fanning the flames themselves.

In a recent article for the National Review, professional "marriage defender" Maggie Gallagher took this strange position:

"Is it mere coincidence that this resurgence in illegitimacy happened during the five years in which gay marriage has become (not thanks to me or my choice) the most prominent marriage issue in America -- and the one marriage idea endorsed by the tastemakers to the young in particular?"

Ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed that this statement really is a "Deep" Thought Two-for-One. First, we see that Ms. Gallagher notes a correlation and then implies causation: Due to the Incredible Power of the Gay, as Ed Brayton jokes, even the mere advocacy of gay marriage has caused a "resurgence in illegitimacy."

However, those of us in the reality-based world know that, dun dun dun, Correlation. Does Not. Imply. Causation. Just because two variables have occurred together, it does not mean that one has caused the other. No matter how much we state this, it never seems to sink in with some people.

Secondly, after discussing how the rise in illegitimacy occurred along with the rise of gay marriage as the most prominent marriage issue in America, you will notice that Ms. Gallagher defensively tacked on the parenthetical "not thanks to me or my choice." Yet, is Maggie truly blameless here in the prominence of this particular marriage issue? Let's take a look.

According to the "About Maggie" page within one of the two marriage "think-tanks" she is either President or Director of, we have a summary of the various ways that Maggie has, in fact, helped make (opposition to) gay marriage quite the prominent issue:

"Maggie is a nationally syndicated columnist, the author of three books on marriage (including most recently with University of Chicago Prof Linda Waite "The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better-Off Financially"), and a leading voice of the new marriage movement. National Journal named her to the 2004 list of the most influential people in the same-sex marriage debate." (Emphasis Added)

Is gay marriage's rise to social prominence not at all owing to the efforts of professional "marriage defenders" like Maggie Gallagher? Is it really only due to the advocacy of those on the pro-marriage equality side? Or, isn't it more likely that prominent folks like Maggie Gallagher, like those on our side, have all contributed to the popularity of the issue via books, op-ed pieces, television appearances, and blogs?

Issues become issues precisely because they are controversial and multi-sided. Furthermore, those on all sides of the marriage debate quote Gallagher practically every single day. Her own marriage institutes' even brag about how influential she is in this debate! For her to outright say that the marriage debate has become a prominent issue in American "not thanks" to her is just really out-of-touch with reality. That's why I think her little parenthetical not-guilty plea is just another passive-aggressive swipe at LGBT people and gay marriage advocates.

Gay marriage advocates have single-handedly caused a rise in illegitimacy and the rise to prominence of the gay marriage debate. "Deep" Thoughts.

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