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Is There Anything Left To Say About Gay Marriage?

Josh Barro notes the silence of conservatives over Republican US Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s endorsement of same-sex marriage:

Those who oppose gay marriage are sick to death of talking about the issue. They know they are losing the fight over public opinion and that their complaints are not going to convince anybody. And making those complaints has become awkward, because opposing gay marriage has come to be seen as rude in polite society.

I also suspect that, deep down, many socially conservative writers are less confident than they used to be that gay marriage is wrong.

So they’ve abdicated any effort to argue against gay marriage or hold accountable Republicans who support it.

Of course, the fight over gay marriage in the Republican Party is far from over. State party activists are likely to cause trouble for Republicans who back gay marriage even if national writers won’t.

But the national conservative media is done with engaging on the issue.

I think this is right, and I only realized it fully when I read this on the same day I explained to a genuinely inquisitive reader, in a thread below, that I was so brusque on the SSM issue because I have said for years, over and over, on this blog what I think and why I think it, and am sick and tired of talking about it. I don’t secretly think I’m wrong, nor do I mind the opinion of “polite” society, but I am convinced that my side has lost this issue (mostly for reasons I explain here), and I’m just tired of talking about it. Nobody has anything new to say. Not me, not you, nobody. So a Republican Senator now favors gay marriage. So what? What would gay marriage proponents have us say? I mean, The New York Times can find a fresh pro-gay angle every day, on everything under the sun, but the rest of us don’t roll that way.

(Well, the John Jay Institute’s new document may have something new to say. It sounds interesting on first glance. I’ll post on it next week, after I’ve had time to read it closely and think about it.)

“So why do you keep posting gay marriage threads?” asked Turmarion, reasonably. That’s a very good question. Mostly I think it’s to point out the emerging deleterious consequences of this radical change in our civilizational mores, even though I know nothing I say here is likely to change anybody’s mind. A question arises: Why do you readers who disagree with me keep posting on the gay marriage threads I start, even though you know you’re not going to change my mind? Why are you tempted to be sore winners?

There’s something about this issue that engages many of us at a deep level, and keeps us engaged even though the issue is largely settled. I see it as a particularly significant milestone in Christianity’s long defeat in the modern West, which is why it means so much to me. That, and the deeply annoying fact that the media so uniformly cheerleads and propagandizes for it, because journalists, like all progressives, think redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is the advent of all kinds of marvelous things. I hate the herd mentality. Brendan O’Neill is right:

Indeed, the gay-marriage campaign provides a case study in conformism, a searing insight into how soft authoritarianism and peer pressure are applied in the modern age to sideline and eventually do away with any view considered overly judgmental, outdated, discriminatory, ‘phobic’, or otherwise beyond the pale.

The gay writer John D’Emilio has critiqued gay campaigners’ reliance on the courts, arguing that this ‘conviction that [the law] is the way to change the world… would have been considered unusual for much of American history’ (2). Yet this is where gay marriage emerged – in courtrooms and later in political committee rooms, among those apparently ‘more liberal than the public’ – and as Caldwell says: ‘When elites rally unanimously to a cause, it can become a kind of common sense.’ This was the first stage in the great conformism over gay marriage: its transformation into common sense through being adopted and promoted by a legal and political class keen to demonstrate its liberal credentials and to assume an historic, MLK-style posture in our otherwise flat, uninspiring and illiberal political era.

With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised, since in the words of one observer, ‘The fact that there is a debate over whether to deny a group of people their civil rights is unacceptable’. Here, through further linking gay marriage to the old civil-rights movement, even discussion itself can be branded ‘unacceptable’.

 Read the whole thing. 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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