Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blankenhorn and Marquardt Oppose NC Anti-Gay Amendment

For what it's worth, same-sex marriage opponents David Blankenhorn and Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values (and Family Scholars Blog, where I guest post sometimes), have come out in opposition of a proposed amendment to North Carolina's constitution.

The amendment, they believe (and I agree), "goes too far." Namely, it would prohibit the state from recognizing any sort of union between a same-sex couple- including marriage, domestic partnerships, and civil unions. While the amendment would allow private citizens to "contract" with each other for some rights, it is worth noting here that many rights are associated with legal unions that cannot, actually, be contracted for- such as health insurance, social security benefits, right to sue for loss of consortium and wrongful death, and immigration rights.

David and Elizabeth write:

"That’s mighty cold. If you disdain gay and lesbian persons, and don’t care whether they and their families remain permanently outside of the protection of our laws, such a policy might be your cup of tea. But it’s not our view, and we doubt that it’s the view of most North Carolinians.

If you want to create a backlash against mother-father marriage – if you want to convince people that the real agenda of marriage advocates is not protecting marriage, but ignoring and ostracizing gay people – then this amendment might be to your liking. But we believe that the cause of marriage is hurt, not helped, by gratuitously linking it to the cause of never under any circumstances helping gay and lesbian couples."

Despite our disagreement over marriage equality, I am sincerely grateful that they have publicly opposed such a measure.

I said "for what it's worth" up at the top of this post because I'm just not sure those who are motivated by actual, genuine, overt anti-gay animus will do the same.

Extreme groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), I believe, attempt to portray a relatively civil face of "marriage defense," claiming that they don't have anything against same-sex couples, they just want every child to have a mom and a dad. However, many LGBT people believe for good reason that bigotry does the bulk of the work for these anti-equality groups, accounting for nearly all of the various "marriage defense" victories.

In The Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart is stunned by David and Elizabeth's opposition to the amendment, and I think that is quite telling.

When those who make their livelihoods "defending marriage" aren't outright denigrating LGBT people, they mostly ignore the impact their various measures have on our lives.

Most notable to me, for instance, in a recent Salon piece on NOM's Maggie Gallagher, wasn't her professed un-bigotedness, but that she doesn't appear to think much about gay people at all. Our rights, human dignity, and needs to protect our families just don't seem to be a concern of hers, let alone a factor in weighing the competing interests of "marriage defenders" and same-sex couples.

As Capehart writes:

"For the first time that I’ve ever seen, proponents of 'traditional marriage' acknowledge and express concern for gay and lesbian families."

I'm not surprised by David and Elizabeth's opposition to the amendment. I blog with them, have conversations with them, and have seen them express many times their belief that same-sex couples are deserving of dignity. To them, the issues seems to be complicated, an issue of the competing public goods of protecting same-sex couples versus not severing the link between marriage and procreation.

What I am surprised by is their willingness to express their conservative-politically-incorrect view in an op-ed piece that could potentially have actual, real-world repercussions on the amendment initiative. For that at least, they have my admiration and gratitude.

In any event, whether this amendment passes in North Carolina will be a good test, I think, as to the real agenda of most "marriage defense" advocates.

Is it really about saving marriage for couples capable of procreation, or is it about that and something more sinister- the marginalization and degradation of homosexuality, same-sex couples, and LGBT people?

[Cross-posted: Alas]

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