STFU, Conservatives

Until June 2012, I was a vocal opponent of gay marriage. I wrote a book about it and spoke against it across the country; I was an expert witness in support of Proposition 8.

I did all of that not because I condemned homosexuality or objected to gay civil unions — I didn’t. But I believed gay marriage would weaken the traditional institution of marriage, the institution that binds mothers, fathers and their children together.

A wealth of social science evidence about child poverty, mental and emotional distress, educational failure, crime and other problems suggests that when marriage breaks down — when fathers are absent and mothers are left alone to raise children — society breaks down too. Gay marriage and families, which by their nature involve the loosening of biological family ties, seemed to pose one more threat to an already beleaguered institution.

In the end, I didn’t change my mind on gay marriage because I stopped believing in the importance of intact biological families. Nor was it because of new studies or additional facts. (Gay marriage still strains biological family bonds, although research also points to the potential stability of gay marriage and family structures.) And I didn’t change my mind because I got tired of being criticized. I changed my opposition to gay marriage because of personal relationships.

"What matters now about marriage"

This is a fascinating op-ed from David Blankenhorn, a long-time anti-gay advocate. Basically, he thought same-sex marriage threatened the institution of marriage or whatever the usual bigoted excuse is, and then he became friends with a gay couple, and he was like “Oh, wow, you’re both humans in a loving relationship and my marriage continues to exist despite the existence of yours.”

On one hand, it’s like: really? Do you really need to know a person to understand that their group should be allowed the same basic rights that you have? Hurray for you, you made a gay friend and now you get that it’s not evil incarnate to be gay-married.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty big deal for a person who was so vocally, publicly opposed to marriage equality publish an op-ed in the LA Times about how he changed his mind. He could have easily changed his mind and kept that information private. He could have moved on to some other cause without mentioning that he completely disagrees with an issue for which he was once a prominent voice. Despite the ridiculousness of needing a gay friend to realize that the gays are people too, maybe his words will change someone else’s mind. Obviously not anyone in the comments, which you should definitely not read. But someone.

One day, perhaps, we could progress to the point where you don’t need to befriend someone in an oppressed group to care about what happens to them. For now, this gets filed under “a step in the right direction.”

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