What Is a Liberal to Do?
Seventy percent of African-American voters in California voted for Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage. Liberals, however, say that opposing same-sex marriage is a form of bigotry no better than the racism of those who wanted inter-racial marriage to be illegal and Jim Crow laws to remain. How, liberals wonder, can African-Americans--the victims of racism-- switch from being champions of equality to champions of bigotry? It is a true paradox.
Liberals, by definition, support the victims of racism. But how can they do that when those very same victims are bigoted against gays? Oh dear! What is a liberal to do?
I would like to offer two helpful suggestions.
It would be wise to consider that what is seemingly paradoxical generally turns out not to be when examined more closely. What makes the behavior of African-American voters seem paradoxical is the assumption that opposing same-sex marriage is bigotry and a rejection of the principle of equality. Were this true, we would indeed have a true paradox. But if liberals would look closely at why people oppose same-sex marriage they would discover that it has nothing to do with hatred of gays and everything to do with concern for children.
Maggie Gallagher, a leading supporter of Proposition 8, appeared on the Dr. Phil show last night as part of a debate (including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on the other side) about same-sex marriage. Gallagher, in her opening statement, said that she opposed same-sex marriage because it is important for a child that its biological mother and father should know, and be known by, the child--and that this cannot happen when the child is produced by a same-sex couple. Her debate teammate cited Rosie O'Donnell's son who wanted a daddy but was told by Rosie that he couldn't have one because Rosie wanted another mommie. They said that the needs of children should come before the desires of adults. One may disagree with Gallagher on this point (I agree with her) but one can hardly call her view bigotry.
Nonetheless, Mayor Newsom and his team did declare Gallagher's view to be bigotry, with the familiar charges that she was calling for gays to be denied the same right that straight people enjoyed. But did Mayor Newsom or his debating team members ever, even once, even obliquely, respond to Gallagher's point about the welfare of children being more important than the desires of adults? No. Not once. Did Dr. Phil chime in on this point? No. Not once. The liberal response to the 70% of African-Americans who voted for Proposition 8 is to completely ignore their reason. Liberals don't want to hear it.
When African-Americans relied on religion to back up their claims for equality, liberals had no objection. But when those same African-Americans rely on religion to back up their opposition to same-sex marriage, then liberals dismiss them as "religious fundamentalists."
Liberals seem to view African-Americans the way some people once viewed children: they should be seen (as victims of racism) but not heard (as people with opinions worth taking seriously.) When applied to 70% of the adult African-American population, this view of people has a precise technical name: elitism. Only through the lense of elitism do liberals see a paradox in the California vote.
It would be wise to re-consider if anybody, gay or straight, actually has a right to marry. Does it make sense, in other words, to say that gays are being denied a right by Proposition 8 if even straights do not have that right? To help liberals think this through, here are some questions they might try answering, in the privacy of their own homes of course.
1. Do straight people who are siblings of each other have a right to marry?
2. Do the laws against sibling marriage deny anybody their right?
3. Why are there laws against sibling marriage?
4. Do such laws reflect hatred of siblings?
5. Do straight people who are infected with syphilis have a right to marry? Does the law in California and other states that prohibits such people from getting a marriage license violate anybody's rights? Why not?
6. What do the laws against siblings and syphilis-infected people marrying have in common? Is it a concern for children, or hate and bigotry?
7. Do children experience emotional pain from not knowing and being raised by both their biological mother and their biological father?
8. Are syphilis infection and genetic deformity the only things from which society should try to protect children with laws about who can and who cannot marry?
9. Is it possible that the reason Maggie Gallagher and 70% of California's African-Americans voted for Proposition 8 is the same reason that virtually everybody, even liberals, agrees with the laws against sibling and syphillis-infected marriage?
10. Is it possible that the same-sex marriage issue does not, in fact, have anything to do with equal rights and everything to do with concern for children?
11. Is it really a paradox that people who fought against segregation also oppose same-sex marriage?