At nytimes.com, tomorrow's op-ed articles are up already, and they provide some surprises and some depressingly predictable writing. Given the news events of the past week, marriage equality is the subject of two of them. Maureen Dowd asks, in her usual snarky way, Will Gays Be Punished for Success? while Ross Douthat sighs, Marriage Looks Different Now. One of these articles is on our side (now isn't it better that this is being written by someone who IS one of us?) and the other isn't.
So let's see what the Good Gray Lady is publishing now as we go beyond the great orange headband to which the veil is attached.
As I mentioned in the comments on the last diary about la Dowd, for all her career she has tended to be a purse-lipped scold. Only now, the people she'd scolding are the "conservative" members of the Supreme Court for suggesting the stuff the Chief Justice was trying to get Edith Windsor's attorney to agree to so the Court wouldn't have to discuss the concept of heightened scrutiny. Dowd describes this line of questioning thus:
GAYS might not win because they’ve already won?La Dowd is NOT amused. She scolds Justice Kennedy for not bringing the poetry she thought he brought to the Lawrence decision, and she describes Chief Justice Roberts on Wednesday as a man who was playing Karl Rove. This, as you have gathered, is not complimentary on her part. She is not pleased, either.
That was the moronic oxymoron at the heart of the Supreme Court debate on same-sex marriage.
But Justice Roberts’s suggestion that gays are banishing a long, egregious history of blatant, disgusting, government-sponsored discrimination on their own is absurd. You could almost hear him thinking, “They’ve got ‘Glee,’ they’ve got Ellen, they’ve got Tammy Baldwin — what are they whining about?”She doesn't think Earl Warren would have referred to the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in the questioning that preceded the decision on Loving v Virginia
the justices struck down the law anyway because, as they said, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” (Paving the way for Clarence and Ginni Thomas to live happily ever after in Virginia.)She reminds us that things are still very much less than ideal for the LGBT community in the United States, because, as I think I've mentioned more than a few times here,
Congress has passed no federal protections for gays on employment, housing and education. In 29 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone because of his or her sexual orientation. The F.B.I. says the only uptick in hate crimes involves attacks on gays.Yes, Maureen, civil rights should NOT be left to the political process, especially not to statewide referenda. Agreed, agreed, agreed.
Thirty-one states have enacted Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Beyond the nine states where they can marry, plus D.C., gays may pick up Illinois and Delaware, but then there’s a hard stop. Those struck by Cupid in places like Alabama, Arkansas and Utah will long be left either moving or saying, “I’m deliriously, madly in love with you, but let’s leave it to the states, honey.”
But then there's Mr, Douthat, who sees the overall decline in marriage as a result of efforts to secure marriage equality. Does he explain this? Well, sort of. Marriage, to him, IS in trouble:
the marriage rate has been falling faster, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has been rising faster, and the substitution of cohabitation for marriage has markedly increased. Underlying these trends is a steady shift in values: Americans are less likely to see children as important to marriage and less likely to see marriage as important to childbearing (the generation gap on gay marriage shows up on unwed parenting as well) than even in the very recent past.Is this the fault of efforts to secure marriage equality for same-sex couples? Well, um, there IS the economy, and there's what he describes as a "new understanding" of marriage as a "capstone" for achieving adulthood. But marriage equality? Douthat sees precisely what he wants to see:
But there is also a certain willed naïveté to the idea that the advance of gay marriage is unrelated to any other marital trend. For 10 years, America’s only major public debate about marriage and family has featured one side — judges and journalists, celebrities and now finally politicians — pressing the case that modern marriage has nothing to do with the way human beings reproduce themselves, that the procreative understanding of the institution was founded entirely on prejudice, and that the shift away from a male-female marital ideal is analogous to the end of segregation.Ten years. That would be since 2003. Did you forget, Mr. Douthat, that a bevy of states voted to restrict marriage by state constitutional amendment in 2004 and that voters rejected marriage equality by referendum in California and Maine in 2008? I'd say THAT was "willed naïveté" on his part.
What does he really want? He wants the pro-marriage equality people not to think of him as a bigot:
A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage. It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.I think he's speaking for Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation here too. If only the two of you were the reasonable men you pretend to be.
But no. More canards.
Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.Speaking for the Church too, are you? On Easter? Ah, well.
Frankly, there's been a decline in the so-called "conservative" (I really have trouble using that word for people who increasingly appear to me to be reactionary or at least resistant to change, whatever the change is) seat on the op-ed page. I can't see William Safire writing anything so squishy. But at least we have Maureen.