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Covering same-sex marriage

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from one of the organizations that campaign against gay marriage. The tone was boastful and celebratory about the push for a same-sex marriage ban in Minnesota. It irritated me enough that I tweeted: "I can empathize with everyone I cover except for the anti-gay marriage bigots. In 20 years no one will admit they were part of that."

That comment offended some people, so I want to do two things. First, I apologize for calling same-sex-marriage opponents "bigots." I was specifically referring to people who spend their working hours opposing gay marriage, not just people who vote to ban it. But those people aren't bigots, either.


Second, let me explain what it meant. I'm a bystander in the same-sex marriage debate -- I haven't given to any cause on either side. But in 2006 I did vote against a Virginia same-sex marriage amendment, which passed. I didn't, and don't, think social issues should be subjected to votes like that. I don't support much direct democracy in general -- this is a republic, and we shouldn't throw these kinds of decisions to the electorate at large.

But why was I willing to be so disrespectful to one group of activists? Unlike with most activists, I don't really see the direct impact on their lives, or on the lives of the people who agree with them, of the cause they oppose. Antitax protesters are threatened by higher taxes. Anti-health-care-bill protesters fear their coverage will get worse. Anti-meat-eating protesters believe animals are being murdered and the environment is being made worse.

Even the birther movement has always made a kind of sense -- oust Obama from office, and you get a chance to reverse what damage you think he's done to your country.

But who's threatened by legal same-sex marriage? Whose life is made worse? If there was science suggesting that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off than children raised by traditional families, that would be one thing, but I haven't seen it. We've watched legal same-sex marriage in several European countries and several states, and it hasn't ushered in some decline in the quality of life, or marriage, for those who don't participate in it.

That's what I don't understand. That's my bias, for now. I'll happily entertain arguments for the contrary.

By David Weigel  |  May 3, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
Categories:  Conservatives  
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