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    Dale Carpenter finished his guest-posting on same-sex marriage at the Volokh Conspiracy nearly a week ago. I tried to read everything, including the comments, but rapidly started to get the feeling I’d been hanging out a little too long at the corner of Lawyerview Boulevard and Old Libertarian Pike, if you know what I mean. I suppose I’m only posting this about it myself so that I’ll have a link in my own archives if I ever want to go back and look at what was written. My own mind isn’t changed. The gay marriage advocates, however articulate and sober they are, still always sound to me as if they were casting us as First Runner-up straight people, which is kind of humiliating. It just doesn’t bother me that homosexuality and heterosexuality aren’t the same thing and therefore may not have the same requirements or social effects.

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    1. Connie says:

      In a word, the whole episode is “tragic.”

      Timing is everything. The activists blew their wad at the wrong time with the wrong message and the push back is even worse than I predicted.

      There are so many clichés to throw out about all of this, I don’t know where to begin, but the phrase, “Never ask a question if you’re not prepared for the answer” comes to mind.

      The debate made it acceptable to discuss the normalcy and tolerance of homosexuality as a personal/moral issue (as a “feeeeelings” issue) and pitted the civil advocates against the libertarians and conservatives. It made it acceptable to be intolerant and gave a “victory” to those who oppose homosexuality in any form, far beyond the question of marriage. The activists painted the marriage question as one of love and acceptance rather than “fairness” and rights recognition. Every time the money issue came up they denied that many had a place in the discussion. Had they framed the debate as one of “caring for your partner” in issues of wills, caregiving, and durable powers of attorney, they could have found a victory, even in a loss.

      When the outcome of the proposition failed in New Orleans it should have been a major red flag to advocates that it was time to retreat and regroup, but by then it was too late. Mr. and Mrs. America were terrified that the scenes of gay and lesbian couples at the county courthouse making a mockery of their cherished institutions, would be coming to a town near them.

      Imagine if the activists and all those who donated to the effort had, instead, set up a kind of free clinic legal storefronts where homosexual couples could get a private “civil contract” for free (or little cost). By keeping it entirely in the private realm, using existing corporate and civil contract laws, much of the intended goal could have been achieved without causing a ripple of notice. Assigning legal teams in each state, they could have come up with boilerplate contracts that would have guaranteed that homosexual couples had the same legal protections that married couples have. Then they could have gone after any group/institution who failed to recognize the contracts as a civil rights issue, and (most) Americans would have supported them. After a decade or more, they could have gotten through legislation that made these contracts available from the state, because they would have had data that showed that it was fiscally beneficial to do so.

      But we know what they did.

      In the wake of this disaster, in a move to demand (through legal fiat) acceptance, they got just the opposite.

      For those of us who witnessed this debacle from 60,000 feet, we have about a decade of work ahead of us to disentangle “acceptance” and “tolerance” from marriage to move the debate again to “live and let live.” And the other side has tasted blood. “Queer Eye” and other portrayals of gays and lesbians as the hair dresser and interior design equivalent of “house niggers” didn’t help. “Oh, sure, they can decorate our houses, but we don’t want them as neighbors.”

      Makes me so angry. If I were a paranoid person I’d suspect the whole thing was engineered by gay bashers. The outcome couldn’t have been worse, forcing many to retreat deeper into the gay ghettoes.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      It is good to bear a few things in mind: Years ago, the main argument against gay unions of any kind was “You queers don’t fall in love; you just shack up until you find a better screw.” Establishing that we have loving, long-term relationships was important then. It’s also true that there are some defenders of gay marriage who really have focused on mutual care-giving. And, while it’s become easy for detractors to portray gays as this aberrantly grasping, self-centered cell within the general population, the entitlement mentality infected American politics and civic life long before the push for gay marriage began; the “Whatcha gonna do for me, Daddy?” attitude toward government was hardly invented by gays.

      But the fixation on using legal status to get people to think well of us–clinging like death to the word marriage instead of being willing to consider a different set of policies for what is, after all, a new kind of relationship for society to be recognizing–has been disastrous, as you say. I’m glad you think unraveling the whole mess is only going to take ten years.

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