Is Same Sex Marriage “Inevitable”?

Ken AshfordSex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

In this article of Politico, Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage (which oppose SSM), states that:

"The events of the last few months have put a serious dent in the idea that gay marriage is inevitable."

In this post here, she expands on this view, giving eight reasons why gay marriage is not inevitable.  It's an interesting look into narrow-minded thinking:

Maggie's Top Eight Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Not Inevitable

1. Nothing is inevitable.

We are talking about the future here. It's weird to have  "reporting" that something that has not yet happened will certainly happen. The future is never inevitable.

My response:  Well, she's technically correct: nothing is 100% guaranteed "inevitable", including gay marriage or the Rapture.  But she's taking issues with the parameters of the argument, not the argument itself.  A pretty weak opening for her list.

2. Young people are not as unanimous as most people think.

In California, the young-adults vote split 55 percent to 45 percent. Is it so hard to imagine 5 percent of those young people changing their minds as they move through the life cycle?

My response:  It's not hard to imagine that 5 percent of those young people will change their minds as they get older, but it's not hard to imagine that MORE than 5 percent might changes their minds the other way.  Meanwhile, a new generation will crop up.  And is it hard to imagine that their support for gay marriage will be 60-40?  70-30?

The point here is to look at trends over time, not one snapshot in time and then "imagine" it might be different in the future.  Maggie's blinders prevent her from looking at the fact that, while young voters in California favored SSM 55-45, it was balanced the other way a generation earlier, and so on and so on.  Because each succeeding generation — in California and everywhere — is less and less opposed to homosexuality in general, the trends lead to the conclusion that gay marriage is inevitable.  Maggie apparently doesn't do "trends".

3. The argument from despair is bait and switch.

They are trying push the idea that gay marriage is inevitable, because they are losing the argument that gay marriage is a good idea.

My response: "They" being….. who? 

Listen, conjuring up fictional bad motives on the part of those with whom you disagree?  That is desparate.

4.  Progressives are often wrong about the future.

Here's my personal litany: Progressives told me abortion would be a dead issue by today, because young people in 1975 were so pro-choice. They told me there would be no more homemakers at all by the year 2000, because of the attitudes and values of young women in 1975. Some even told me the Soviet Union was the wave of the future. I mean, really, fool me once shame on you. Fool me over and over again . . . I must be a Republican!

My response:  This is classic "somebody told me X and they were wrong, so therefore I'm right now".  Whoever these unnamed people are who told Maggie certain things (and I frankly don't trust Maggie to accurately reflect those conversations), they certainly don't represent the progressive viewpoint.

But as for abortion, it IS a dead issue from a public policy standpoint.  It stands zero chance of being overturned.  That doesn't make it uncontroversial.  It's like taxes.  We talk about them and complain about them, but is there a reasonable likelihood that they will go away?  No, of course not. 

Same with abortion.  If abortion viewpoints are so different compared to 1975, then tell us Maggie why aborytion is still legal everywhere in the United States?

And by the way, Maggie – young people in 1975 were pro-choice…. and guess what?  The young people of today still are.

5.  Demography could be destiny.

If there is one force that directly contradicts the inevitability argument, it is that traditionalists have more children. Preventing schools and media from corrupting those children is a problem, but not necessarily an insoluable one. Religous groups are increasingly focused on the problem of how to transmit a marriage culture to the next generation (see the USCCB's recent initiatives). 

My response:  What Maggie and so many of her ilk ignore is this: almost every single gay person is the child of a traditional marriage.  They didn't become gay because of corrupt school systems or the media.  Many, in fact, had traditional and religious influences in their early life.  Yet….. here they are.  Culture didn't create gays, and a change in culture — the kind of change that Maggie recommends — isn't going to make the tide go in a different direction.  And if there is one thing that history does teach us is this: attempts to turn culture into one of intolerance have a 100% failure rate…. inevitably.

6. Change is inevitable.

Generational arguments tend to work only for one generation: Right now, it's "cool" to be pro-gay marriage. In ten years, it will be what the old folks think. Even gay people may decide, as they get used to living in a tolerant and free America, they don't want to waste all that time and energy on a symbolic social issue, anyway. (I know gay people who think that right now). I am not saying it will happen, only that it could. The future is not going to look like the present (see point one above). Inevitability is a manufactured narrative, not a fundamental truth.

My response:  No, generational arguments don't work "only for one generation", particularly when it comes to matters of civil rights and equality.  And wishing doesn't make it so.  Look at the advancements of women and minorities over the course of, say, the past 5 generations.  Any backsliding there?  Any reversals?  No, the march toward equality always go forward — sometimes slowly, and sometimes with obstructions.  But it never moves backward.

Also, I don't know anyone who supports gay marriage because it is "cool" or trendy.  That's an insult.  Everyone I know supports it because it is simply the right thing to do, especially for a country built on the notions of freedom and equality.  Those are enduring values that mean something; they're not "cool" for a generation or two.

7. Newsflash: 18-year-olds can be wrong.

Should we really say "Hmm, whatever the 18-year-olds think, that must be inevitable," and go do that? I mean, would we reason like that on any other issue?

My response:  Wow.  Is that dumb.  Nobody is reasoning like that.  Again, Maggie is trend-blind.  The fact that young people (not just 18 year olds) over time, not to mention older people (especially those of a libertarian bent), increasingly don't give a rat's ass about other people's sexual preferences, is something that can't be ignored.

8. New York's highest court was right.

From Hernandez v. Robles

The dissenters assert confidently that "future generations" will agree with their view of this case (dissenting op at 396). We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives. We therefore express our hope that the participants in the controversy over same-sex marriage will address their arguments to the Legislature; that the Legislature will listen and decide as wisely as it can; and that those unhappy with the result — as many undoubtedly will be — will respect it as people in a democratic state should respect choices democratically made.

My response:  Right or wrong, this doesn't address the inevitability argument — in fact, the New York Court was explicitly avoiding weighing in on the inevitability issue (they even said so!).  So this doesn't even count as a reason why inevitability of gay marriage is supposedly wrong.  All this does is address a separate issue — whether change, if it is to happen at all — should come through legal interpretation of the Constitution, or through the legislative process.  An issue, to be sure, but a side issue.  And I think Maggie knows that.

UPDATE — New York magazine weighs in on this too.  Their take: