My argument at the piece distills a lot of the commentary I've offered here over the last few months, so readers may see some familiar themes. The push for same-sex marriage is more than about non-traditional wedded partnerships. It's about achieving a social revolution of nihilism and extreme secularization. One of the more interesting debates on the topic this week is the discussions by Rod Dreher, and the attacks on him by Damon Linker and Andrew Sullivan. Conor Friedersdorf jumps on the "pomo-con" bandwagon here.
Actually, Dreher doesn't do justice to the complexity of the issue, and thus he's easily attacked and ridiculed remorselessly as a theocon homophobe. Dreher makes it easy for his antagonists because he sets up opposition to same-sex marriage as opposition to homosexuality in toto. My personal experience in writing about this topic for the past six months, and in discussing it with people of various persuasions, is that people don't hate homosexuals. There's little homophobia per se. What gay hatred we do see, no matter how isolated, is highlighted and enlarged by the gay extremists as respresentative of an alleged hegemonic hetero-dominant dictatorship. Yet, when examining polling data, Americans demonstrate huge support for a type of civil unioin that affords all the legal guarantees of rights and responsibilities of marriage, while at the same time recognizing "marriage" as it's been historically substantiated - normatively and politically - is between one man and one woman for the regeneration of society.
Robert Stacy McCain's been shifting over to social conservatives issues in his writing this week, and he's got a really powerful essay up at the American Spectator that make the case for traditionalism, "Marriage: A Hill to Die On."
Robert notes that "Over and over, we find ourselves fighting what is essentially a defensive battle against the forces of organized radicalism who insist that "social justice" requires that we grant their latest demand." And further, "Such is the remorseless aggression of radicalism that conservatives forever find themselves contemplating the latest "progressive" demand and asking, 'Is this a hill worth dying on?'"
Yes, marriage is a "hill worth dying on." That is to say, there's not a whole lot left in the culture that hasn't been broken down and destroyed by radical individualism. Conservatives, as Mark Levin points out in Liberty and Tyranny, borrowing from Edmund Burker, are not opposed to change. But change absent of prudence is radical and destabilizing.
But let's go back to Robert's essay on why traditionalism is worth the fight:
Some conservatives are wholly persuaded by the arguments of same-sex marriage advocates. Others, however, are merely unprincipled cowards and defeatists. Concerned about maintaining their intellectual prestige, some elitists on the Right do not wish to associate themselves with Bible-thumping evangelicals. Or, disparaging the likelihood of successful opposition, they advocate pre-emptive surrender rather than waging a fight that will put conservatism on the losing side of the issue.Read the whole essay at the link.
Yet if the defense of traditional marriage - an ancient and honorable institution - is not a "hill worth dying on," what is? In every ballot-box fight to date, voters have supported the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage. As indicated by exit polls in California last fall, this is one issue where the conservative position is widely endorsed by black and Latino voters. Should such a potentially promising political development be abandoned? ....
It is only by the activist rulings of judges and other officials, never at the behest of voters, that the radical crusade for same-sex marriage has advanced this far. We know which side the people are on. Even Barack Obama was shrewd enough to declare his opposition to same-sex marriage during the presidential campaign. We have seen voters in 30 states pass constitutional amendments to defend the "one-man, one-woman" definition of marriage, and conservatives in Iowa are now planning efforts to add their state to the list.
Having been given an inch, the radicals now attempt to take a mile. But this is a hill to die on.