A friend of mine brought one of Kathleen Parker's columns from last week to my attention: Same-sex marriage can help save the institution. Briefly, the column gives an account of the conversion from anti-marriage equality to pro-marriage equality of one David Blankenhorn. In case you've forgotten, Blankenhorn was one of the witnesses for the defense in Perry v. Brown, the challenge to California's Proposition 8, which currently rests on the doorstep of the U. S. Supreme Court. He's now switched sides. And, so, apparently, has Parker, since I doubt she would have written this column if she hadn't.
Details below the fold ...
Back in 2005, Kathleen Parker wrote a column ridiculing cultural changes that were occurring in Massachusetts following the introduction of marriage equality to the state. State officials had changed birth certificates from having places for "Mother" and "Father" to places for "Parent A" and "Parent B." Granted, the terminology is inelegant, but Parker was taking aim at same-sex marriage, not clunky bureaucratic language.
Now see what Parker wrote only a week ago: Same-sex marriage can help save the institution. Having clear memories of the 2005 column, reading this one came as something of a shock. Apparently, one of the minds that has been changed by our progress toward marriage equality over the past decade is Parker's.
The article is about how David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute of American Values, has shifted his focus from trying to prevent the advent of marriage equality nationwide to finding a way to strengthen the institution of marriage in general, without regard to the gender distribution of the couple in question. Here's Parker's lede:
More than perhaps anyone else in America, David Blankenhorn personifies the struggle so many have experienced over same-sex marriage.Blankenhorn, in his role as witness for the defense in Perry v. Brown, asserted that same-sex marriage posed a threat to the institution of marriage. Blankenhorn's assertions were thoroughly taken apart and stomped on in Judge Walker's ruling in that case. (Here's a link to Dan Savage's blog, which quotes the ruling's conclusions at length regarding Blankenhorn's testimony.) Briefly, when describing Blankenhorn's testimony, Walker used words like "unreliable," "tautological," and "entitled to essentially no weight."
First he was agnostic, then he was against it, now he’s for it.
This is to say that Blankenhorn — a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage — has shifted his energies to saving the institution of marriage, regardless of whom one chooses as a mate.
I suppose it's good news that the likes of Blankehorn have jumped the fence, though with such a sloppy record of thought, I doubt he's much of an asset. In fact, his intellectual methods are as sloppy as ever. From Parker's recent piece:
Blankenhorn still believes, as do most Americans, that a child benefits most from a loving mother and father committed in marriage. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child even has designated this arrangement as a right. “Marriage,” Blankenhorn has written, “is a gift that society bestows on its children.”Oy.
But this gift has been badly damaged or, too often these days, withheld. Moreover, many same-sex couples today also have children. It is simply not possible to justify offering societal protections to only certain children. As Blankenhorn has recognized, it is in everyone’s best interest that all children in all families have the security of parents committed through marriage with all its attendant rights and responsibilities.
In an op-ed last summer, Blankenhorn expanded on his vision: “Once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace?” he asked. “Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation?
“Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?”
So marriage is for children again. Is it really necessary to point out one more time all the marriages between people who don't want to have children? Who are incapable of having children? While most people do get married with having children in mind, modern marriage has evolved into much more than the optimal avenue of procreation.
I suppose that perhaps I should just shut up and be thankful that two influential voices on the right have come out for marriage equality, but I nonetheless wish they'd just be less stupid about it.