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The Hysterical Hate for Ryan T. Anderson

The Washington Post published a profile of Ryan T. Anderson [1], a Heritage Foundation fellow who is a leading intellectual defender of traditional marriage, and a genuinely nice guy. Excerpt:

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. cited his work twice in his dissent from the court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act [2]. Anderson is becoming a prominent face of the opposition in news media appearances.

His appeal in part owes something to counter-programming. A Princeton graduate with a doctorate in economic policy from Notre Dame, his views are at odds with other elite academics with whom he has so much in common. They are the opposite of those in his demographic. A devout Catholic, he nonetheless believes it a losing argument to oppose the legality of same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.

Also in his favor: He’s telegenic, an enthusiastic debater, and he can talk for hours.


“He’s a smart, likable, very well-educated young person: an ideal spokesperson for the opposition to gay marriage,” Harvard University law professor Michael Klarman, who recently sparred with Anderson at a law school event, writes in an e-mail.

But Klarman, who wrote the book “From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage [3],” adds, “It’s almost inconceivable to me that he persuaded anyone in the audience by his arguments.”

Anderson says he has been taking unexpected positions all his life, as an antiabortion activist in college and as a conservative at the liberal Quaker Friends School in Baltimore, where he grew up.

He was the fourth of five boys, and his parents paid for all to get the rigorous academic background Friends School provided. But they told their sons that college would be on them.

Anderson paid for the part of his Princeton schooling that scholarships did not cover with the proceeds from a lawn business — Cutting Edge, he named it — started when he was an adolescent.

One more bit:

He seems almost surprised at the reaction he provokes.

“On the marriage issue, they don’t think you’re just wrong, they think you’re evil,” he says. “And that your views are bigoted. I count it as a success if I can at least get someone to say, ‘I disagree with you, but I don’t think you’re crazy or full of animus. I think you’re wrong, but I understand why you believe what you believe.’ ”

Read the whole thing.  [1]So, when the Friends School of Baltimore posted on its Facebook page a link to the WaPo story about its well-known alumnus, students and alumni freaked out, prompting this gutless response by the head of school:

As many of you know, earlier today we posted a Washington Post article profiling a Friends School alumnus who is a prominent national legal advocate opposing same-sex marriage. At 5:45 this evening, I removed that post from this page. I will be posting a more detailed explanation of why I have chosen to do so later this evening.

I regret that by highlighting this article, we have caused pain to many members of our community, first and foremost, to our students. We have no greater responsibility than to continually strive to create a safe, nurturing environment for all the children in our care, and it is clear to me that leaving this article in place on our Facebook page is counter to that goal. – Matt Micciche

“Safe”? A profile in the Washington Post makes these crybabies unsafe? The hysterical mob mentality here is disgusting.

Ryan T. Anderson, a devout Catholic, advocates respectfully and intelligently for a position that an overwhelming majority of Americans held 20 years ago, and that a third of all Americans hold today. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama professed it until practically the day before yesterday. And yet he is some kind of Nazi to these elites who spend nearly $30,000 per year [4]to send their kids to this playpen?

Intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt. Illiberal elitist liberalism at its ugliest. These people have the power, and will have the power. It unnerves me to think of what they will do with it.

This really upsets me more than I can quite convey. Twelve years of Ryan Anderson’s being part of this school community, and his family’s long devotion to it, mean nothing — all because he defends his faith, and does so in an intellectually robust, winsome manner. They’ve basically thrown him out of the community because he doesn’t conform on this one issue. It’s madness. Where does it stop?

217 Comments (Open | Close)

217 Comments To "The Hysterical Hate for Ryan T. Anderson"

#1 Comment By marysue On April 20, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

“Mark Regnerus, whose work is accepted almost without dispute by the peers in his area”

Ha ha, what? Both the American Sociological Association and the American Psychological Association condemned Regnerus’ study. I’m glad you brought that up though, Anderson and Robert George’s promotion of the Regnerus study is a good example of their intellectual dishonesty.


#2 Comment By marysue On April 20, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

Sorry for misreading that other post, I thought he was defending the use of the Regnerus study. My bad

#3 Comment By Scuds Lonigan On April 20, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

Marriage is the institution through which society undertakes orderly renewal.

Heterosexual unions qualify for marriage.
Homosexual unions do not qualify.

#4 Comment By ThomasH On April 20, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

Hysterical hate? The WaPo profile seemed pretty positive. His old school? Ridiculous. Makes proponents of same sex marriage look bad.

Also, I’m still trying to understand how a state law about who should be able to get married has anything to do with a religious belief about the nature of marriage. I guess it’s nice to have the State officially approve your belief, but not something you should expect or demand.

#5 Comment By MichaelGC On April 20, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

@Joseph Dooley

Ryan T. Anderson is proof the Left can’t be defeated with arguments and logic.

The left is not concerned with arguments and logic, which would presuppose that it has any regard for ethics. Rather, it is concerned with winning.

Therefore, the left’s methods bypass the neo-cortex and go straight for the limbic system, using the same techniques that Madison avenue uses to psychologically manipulate us into buying their clients’ products, or used by tyrants to control the masses.

Desensitize, jam, and convert it’s called.

Thus, we have slogans such as “marriage equality” (whoever could be against equality?).

While the practitioners of desensitize, jam, and convert may present themselves as fuzzy, fun-loving teddy bears that need our protection the goal is power, domination, and control.

#6 Comment By John Spragge On April 21, 2015 @ 5:07 am

The specific argument that the state has no other interest in marriage other than procreation ignores the consequences of promiscuity. The experience of the past century leads pretty logically to an affirmation, at least on the secular level, of same sex marriage. Western societies started out persecuting Gays and Lesbians, for reasons having more to do with gender ideologies than religious ones, and we got the ugly horror of the pink triangle and the destruction of Alan Turing. After a transition to toleration, epitomized by (then) Canadian Justice Minister Trudeau’s statement that “the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”, governments stopped actively persecuting Gay men and Lesbians. However, same sex relationships remained excluded from most social institutions, and attempting to form stable relationships actually left Gays and Lesbians more vulnerable. The plague years reminded us of the dangers of a social order that fosters sexual promiscuity. This is the historical context for the increasing support for same sex marriage.

#7 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On April 21, 2015 @ 5:40 am

@David and Rob (and Scuds Lonigan)

Scuds Lonigan says (+1000 for this)

“Marriage is the institution through which society undertakes orderly renewal” [trough reproduction]

Brackets are my addition. This is the only meaningful definition (factually, anthropologically, historically)

The “love and fulfillment” definition is a recent one, limited in time and space to a part of contemporary rich westerners. And is abundantly used by SSM supporters. The whole HRC campaign for “marriage equality” features the “Love can’t wait” slogan.

And there is nothing such as advertising to give a true picture of the moral climate of a time: ads must sell, and to do so they must sing in tune.

Also the pro-SSM press is adopting this tearful description of people being denied the fulfilment of their love, and so on and so forth.

And anyway, I don’t have to defend a position who is evident to whoever has followed the SSM debate. I just mention the notorious Justice Kennedy statement about the DOMA ruling itself – an embarassing sentimentalist pablum, an all-time low in jurisprudence. But a full endorsement of the contemporary sentimentalist view of marriage summarized by the line “marriage is about love and fulfillment”.

And David, your masochistic parody is not an argument, sorry. The fact that marriage (as an institution) is not defined by “love and fulfillment” doesn’t prevent that marriage often entails “love and fulfillment”. “Love and fulfillment” sustain marriage, but don’t define it.

But coming back to the “Love Can’t Wait” slogan of those who think that marriage is a right of those who love each other:

Why – if the love of gays to marry can’t wait – the love of those bisexuals who
want to marry two partners can’t wait?

You argue that bisexuals are just attracted by both sexes but they may choose to settle to just one partner of the same sex. Okay. But you can’t exclude that some bisexuals wish to settle with two partners.
Then why to deny them the right to marry?

Why to deny any stable polyamory group the right to collectively marry and have children?

All of this, sorry, is obvious.

#8 Comment By KD On April 21, 2015 @ 7:42 am

John Spragge:

You are correct on the issue of fornication, and while it is true that many “gay” individuals are capable of meeting the responsibility and demands of sacramental marriage and having children, some are not capable of functional heterosexuality. So the problem is more complex than telling people to shut up and choose normal marriages (the same is true for someone who is fixated on animals or children).

A clever society recognizes that the norm is a heterosexual couple producing children at levels beyond replacement, and holds that up as the highest aspiration. This is not because the quality of heterosexual love is so much better than homosexual love, but because the fruits of heterosexual unions, children, are a public good, in fact, the public good that insures the future economy and defense of the Republic. For this reason, patriotic citizens put aside their personal feelings and do their civic duty.

The empirical evidence is clear that children have the greatest well-being in traditional marriages. To be clear, there is not sufficient data to say that children incorporated into SSM situations will have less well-being, the social experiment is in infancy. It is similar to the 70’s, when no-fault divorce was passed, when there were competing studies questioning whether divorce was good or bad for children. We know now that except in the most extreme circumstances, divorce is universally bad. We conducted the experiment, and although we know the outcome, children are worse off than before, we have not changed our laws.

However, in a society which prioritized its future and its children, we would encourage traditional marriages and eliminate no-fault divorce laws in order to maximize the welfare of children.

I suspect the truth about human beings is that they are both erotically polymorphic and sexually promiscuous–neither “straight” or “gay” in terms of desire. The task of the state is to channel that desire, form that desire in a direction which is positive for the long-term well-being of the State. The Left today is doing this, albeit operating from an ideology of radical gender interchangeability, while dismissing the importance of fertility in insuring the viability of a future economy or national defense. The Left views the Patriarchy that is ebiquitous across cultures and history since agriculture and city states as some kind of conspiracy by men against women. In fact, the sexual division of labor, and a normative understanding of the role of women as mothers is a fundamental result of the need to create and equip an army. Of course, in Liberal la-la land, you don’t need armies because everyone will be nice once they convert to secular humanism, so maybe the Liberals are right, and the world has radically changed.

#9 Comment By panda On April 21, 2015 @ 8:32 am

“Panda, are you really offereing “the last seventy years or so” vs. “the entire history of the human race” as a definitive disposition of the broad, enduring fundamentals of the question?”

No, what I am saying that when discussing question of social arrangements and civil law, our best guide is not “the entire history of the human race” but the way institutions work in the here and now. Marriage, for the vast majority of Americans is neither a spiritual union in the image of the Lord, nor a pragmatic arrangement to continue one’s blood line, but an expresison of romantic love, and a way to codify the formation of a new household, with the entailing legal benefits. To argue about gay marriage while pretending marriage is not what it in the here and now, but some a-historic platonic ideal, is fine for a philosophy seminar, less so for a political and legal debate. homosexuality as normal will change, gay marriage will fall by the wayside.

#10 Comment By KD On April 21, 2015 @ 9:15 am

I guess I agree with Panda. Marriage in the West today has become completely decadent, the boat is sinking, and shooting another bullet through the hull won’t hurt things. At the same time, this is not true in other countries and cultures, nor will it be true in the future, so there is some value in chronicling the symptoms of decline. You certainly can’t effectively argue against a Zeitgeist.

#11 Comment By Ben H On April 21, 2015 @ 9:21 am

“I regret that by highlighting this article, we have caused pain to many members of our community, first and foremost, to our students.”

The best part of these apologies is the tone of servile cowering combined with the smarmy self-righteousness which I believe has actually been patented by educators.

#12 Comment By Will On April 21, 2015 @ 12:38 pm

“The plague years reminded us of the dangers of a social order that fosters sexual promiscuity. This is the historical context for the increasing support for same sex marriage.”

So, a legal contract is all it would have taken to get infected homosexuals to quit being promiscuous?

#13 Comment By David On April 21, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

Why – if the love of gays to marry can’t wait – the love of those bisexuals who
want to marry two partners can’t wait?

You argue that bisexuals are just attracted by both sexes but they may choose to settle to just one partner of the same sex. Okay. But you can’t exclude that some bisexuals wish to settle with two partners.
Then why to deny them the right to marry?

Why to deny any stable polyamory group the right to collectively marry and have children?

But that’s precisely what I was saying to Erin: drop the bisexual comparison and just go for the, “gay marriage proponents don’t have a strong basis to limit marriage to two persons”. And, sorry, but your rejoinder still shows why my original analogy is better: if someone wishes to settle with two partners because they feel fulfilled with both a blonde and a redhead, who are we to deny them that expression? You don’t think it’s accurate because of the genitalia, but consider this: your bisexual example presupposes that a polyamourous bixsexual would only want to be with two people of either gender. Why is that the case? Why not with two other men, two other women?

The bisexual thing annoys me because it seems to be this conservative trope or wilful ignorance to presume that because a bisexual individual can find either gender attractive they then must be with both to be “fulfilled”. Again, why one of both gender? As someone posted before, it is not an “and” relationship. It’s more of an “or”, and their own behavior an expression of that orientation.

To your point about limiting to two, I don’t know what people arguing from positions of “love and fulfillment” would say. I don’t support gay marriage for those reasons. I think marriage is a very important social institution, and I see it invaluable and inseparable from the concept of family (you can lump procreation into that). I am not convinced, however, that procreation or the symbolic potential of procreation should be a requirement.

Marriage is good…it socializes men, it makes people happier, it tends to be linked to reduced crime, and it takes a burden off the state in partners caring for one another in myriad dimensions. It makes sense to me from a social policy standpoint to encourage that kind of relationship between gay men and gay women. I don’t think celibacy is a rational or even sensible proscription for gays. Not even Paul thought it was good for straight men and women. It does not seem sensible to me to encourage gay men and women to marry people of the opposite gender. That path seems fraught with disaster. It makes sense to me to have some social framework to support those relationships. Conservatives said no to domestic partnerships (or in any case, so neutered them to be meaningless), and the first legal gay marriage effectively made that route unattainable. As an aside, I think domestic partnerships and civil unions are worse because they set this idea of “marriage lite”, which I would think would weaken the institution of marriage rather than strengthen it in the goal of excluding gays from it.

From a position of social policy, I’m not currently convinced polyamorous arrangements are something to either encourage or promote based on what see in human nature (emotional considerations) or in societies in which it has been accepted. I see the social institution of marriage as recognizing a reality that happens within mankind, as loathe as Erin is to say it, a primary sexual/emotional partner relationship, and those relationships do much better when they have that recognition, the social support of the community through the insitution of marriage.

I am not convinced that extending that recognition to gay relationships will “weaken” the institution of marriage.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 21, 2015 @ 5:08 pm

marysue, you are being monstrously unfair to the commenter who first quoted regnerus, and you have truncated your citation in a manner that highlights how unfair your comment is.

The original comment is poorly written, put the commenter was on your side… something about Regnerus is accepted by most in the field as being a lot of baloney (to paraphrase efficiently). It did take me 30 seconds to untangle the original sentence, but you have truncated it.

Regnerus, in my view, is one typical example of how everyone who bothers to study the subject is motivated to do so by having an ax to grind, and therefore they all, pro- or anti- come up with precisely the conclusion they sought from the beginning. None of it merits serious consideration as scientifically compelling.

Panda, you are partly right, we certainly cannot live as slaves to the past, but “the here and now” can also be greatly over-rated. That’s why there is a saying in many cultures, “This, too, shall pass.” We really don’t know whether “same sex marriage” is an enduring achievement in human history, or a passing fad of admittedly greater significance than pet rocks, but perhaps of not much greater durability. When even a few characteristics of a thing have remained the same for several thousand years, as distinct from those that change every decade or century or half millenium, MAYBE there is a reason for that!

#15 Comment By John Spragge On April 22, 2015 @ 1:11 am

Marriage is more than a legal contract, it provides community support to a relationship. If your spouse gets sick, their family can’t descend and take over their treatment. If your spouse dies, their family, however deeply they despise you, however desperately they may wish your son/brother/sister had committed their life to someone else, they can’t arrange a funeral that excludes you. Without a relationship recognised by the community, families can, and have, done that, and more.

A prohibition on marriage encourages a rootless and promiscuous lifestyle, because people who don’t form attachments don’t hurt as much when outsiders break them up. That doesn’t serve society very well in the long run.

#16 Comment By Aaron On April 22, 2015 @ 10:37 am

Seems my earlier comment didn’t get posted, so I will try again…

It is, as we say here in the UK, “six of one, half a dozen of the other.” For some reason, people just don’t do respectful disagreement well on this issue, particularly in the US.

On the one hand, you have things like the firings of gays in Catholic schools, food pantries, and the like (some of whom were in fact very discreet about their sexuality). On the other hand, you have things like the manhandling of Brendan Eich and Memories Pizza. Seems to me these two tendencies feed off of each other.

But … there are plenty of examples of hysteria, hate, and “hysterical hate” in the marriage debate, and this just isn’t one of them. So Anderson’s expensive private school made a Facebook post about him which they later deleted? Not a big deal. Except now the right-wing press are trying to manufacture outrage over this non-incident, just as the liberal press tries to manufacture outrage over Anderson’s work in the first place. Sorry, Rod, but it seems your choice of words here feeds that manufactured outrage. Could we have some more light and less heat, please?

#17 Comment By John Dumas On April 22, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

I’m late on this. Upthread, Joseph Dooley makes the statement that

Ryan T. Anderson is proof the Left can’t be defeated with arguments and logic.

Mr. Dooley is wrong, but I probably won’t be able to convince him with arguments and logic. But I’ll try.

Ryan Anderson’s arguments against same-sex marriage (and the same could be said for those made by many people, including Robert George) fall into the model of setting up a boundary and then declaring everything outside of that boundary outside of the definition. Anderson makes a definition of marriage that excludes the possibility of same-sex marriage. But it’s a post-hoc rationalization that Anderson undermines. It can be summarized as:

Marriage is for procreation. Unless you can’t. Or don’t want to.

I know that conservatives feel that these two huge exceptions don’t undermine their argument. Yeah they do. Once you start making exceptions, then you have to start justifying why this exception but not that exception. He can’t do it. Honestly, the argument that infertile couples have the same kind of sex as procreating couples just makes you sound like a perverted voyeur. If young, fresh-faced Ryan Anderson fantasizing about what kind of sex people are having? Creepy.

For the benefit of Mr. Dooley, I will present the two arguments that would convince those who support same-sex marriage to instead oppose it (and this would work for either liberals or conservatives, because, yes Joseph, there are conservatives who support same-sex marriage).

Before I get anyone’s hopes up, both of these arguments have a fatal flaw: they’re not supported by fact. If you could support these by facts, you’d win. Flat out. I’d even join you. I believe I gave these arguments before when Rod asked what would change people’s views on same-sex marriage (Rod said that his opposition was unshakeable).

1. Same-sex marriage harms those outside it.
This gets alleged, usually in the form of the we don’t know what harms will arise from same-sex marriage. It’s a great argument, if you can back it up. Please provide a list of specific harms and mechanisms of how they are caused by same-sex marriage. No one has drawn this direct causal link. You need specifics.

2. Same-sex marriage harms gay people.
This one never gets alleged by conservatives, though it would be a really powerful one. After all, we don’t ban child brides for fear of what it would do to other people, we ban child brides because it’s bad for little girls. (This is how you construct an argument for a limit on a legal right.) There is no factual basis for believing that same-sex marriage would harm those who enter it, rather, benefits accrue to same-sex couples when they marry.

Many conservatives (including Rod Dreher) agree that gay people deserve these benefits of marriage. I suspect that it would be hard to find a marital right that Rod wouldn’t extend to same-sex couples in some sort of nationally-recognized civil union (something the opponents of same-sex marriage made impossible).

Mr. Dooley is wrong. The left does listen to arguments and logic. You just have to use the right ones.