Is it April Fool’s Day? We’re not sure how else to reconcile the news that conservative David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values and an advocate of “traditional marriage,” has come out in favor of marriage equality.
As recently as 2010, Blankehorn was public in his belief “that children have the right, insofar as society makes it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world.” It was a view he espoused in the book The Future of Marriage and as a witness in the Proposition 8 trial. (His testimony is included in the Dustin Lance Black play 8.)
Seems like a flimsy argument to us: There are plenty of gays and lesbians who want to marry but not have kids. And there are millions of hetero couples who adopt children legally.
Maybe Blankenhorn thought so too: In a New York Times opinion piece today, he revealed his stance of same-sex marriage had “evolved.” (God, we hate that term.)
No same-sex couple, married or not, can ever under any circumstances combine biological, social and legal parenthood into one bond. For this and other reasons, gay marriage has become a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization, by which I mean marriage’s steady transformation in both law and custom from a structured institution with clear public purposes to the state’s licensing of private relationships that are privately defined.
I have written these things in my book and said them in my testimony, and I believe them today. I am not recanting any of it.
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
Another good thing is comity. Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting.
A third good thing is respect for an emerging consensus. The population as a whole remains deeply divided, but most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage. This emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits. But surely it matters.
Wow, hardly a ringing endorsement. If we hadn’t already picked our Douche of the Week this guy would’ve won by a landslide. But at least he’s on the right side now, even if for the wrong reasons.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said Blankenhorn’s statement reflects a broader shift in America, even among right-wingers:
As the leader of a right-of-center think tank and network that promotes conservative values, David knows that children grow up best when they are raised in families that are treated with fairness, respect, and dignity. His journey towards marriage has been a long time in the making and he is a welcome addition to the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry.”
We’d bet $50 bucks one of Blankenhorn’s kids just came out.