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Maggie Gallagher: After Gay Marriage

I just ran across this Maggie Gallagher essay from last month, in which she ponders what opponents of same-sex marriage are supposed to do now that we’ve lost. She does not share the view of some gay marriage opponents that we should keep doing what we’ve been doing, and expect results this time. Excerpts:

The question now on the table is: will orthodox Christianity (and other traditional faiths), be stigmatized and marginalized as the equivalent of racism in the American public square?  Will Biblical morality be wiped out as an acceptable public position in America?

Or will we regroup, rebuild as a subculture, and survive to become the possibility of a new foundation in the future?

Hiding or pretending is not going to help us, now.  We have to face the truth.  And we have to find the Love at its heart.

And we will have to do new things, not simply do what failed, over and over again, harder.


Let me begin with Charles Cooper.  Cooper gave an interview to Jo Becker, a New York Times reporter who authored a new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.  The book is basically an insider account of Ted Olson’s and David Boies’s legal battle to dismantle Prop 8, and in the course of it naturally Jo Becker interviewed Chuck Cooper.

Unbeknownst to any of us, Cooper was at the time in the middle of the turmoil of the political becoming the personal.  In 2013, before he attempted to argue the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court, he learned his wife’s daughter (his stepdaughter) was gay and would be married to a woman in Massachusetts.  He and his wife are co-hosting the same-sex wedding ceremony.

Cooper said two things that upset many people on our side: “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago,” he said to Jo Becker some months ago.  And when the book became public and the news of his stepdaughter’s wedding came out he told AP:  ““My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

I received many emails from people who were angry and upset by his comments, but if he were here in front of me (and I hope he reads this) this is what I would say to Charles Cooper:

“Thank you for your hard work, and your service.  I had no idea you were working this hard, for so little benefit to yourself and your career, while simultaneously managing a family crisis like this.  Thank you for being faithful to the end to your client and our cause.  And I wish God’s blessings on you and your family.”

I would say this, even though I do not see how someone faithful to the Biblical or the natural law underlying it, can host a gay wedding. (More on this in another letter).

Nonetheless, we cannot let the “system” overwhelm the human person.

Not just Charles Cooper, we are all struggling with how to respond to the new moral order implied and reified by gay marriage.

And here is the thing I take away, and what I want you to take away, from the Charles Cooper story: Whatever we do, and whatever we say, we have to be willing to say it, as if to a beloved child of our own family, coming to us with a loving gay marriage.

There is no line we can draw that pushes gay people “outside” and leaves us free “inside” to be angry, foot-stomping, and morally “pure.”

We are all tangled up in Love with sin, our own and that of those we love.

Read the whole thing.  It’s a long, very thoughtful, and above all realistic essay. No one fought harder for traditional marriage than Maggie Gallagher, and no one suffered as much spite for it. Her wisdom is hard-earned.

Warning to commenters: this thread will talk about Maggie’s ideas as laid out in her essay. If you want to trash her character, don’t bother posting, because I’m not going to approve the comment.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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