Over on marriagedebate.com, Maggie is disagreeing with Andrew Sullivan over whether or not David Blankenhorn – and, by implication, the entire anti-same-sex-marriage wing of the marriage movement – has shifted their views on marriage since the same-sex marriage debate became prominent. Maggie writes:
No-one who knows anything about David’s work could possibly imagine he invented an emphasis on the importance of fathers and marriage because he suddenly wanted to be mean to gay people:
Maggie, I think you’ve misunderstood what Andrew’s saying. No one denies that David – and you – have been saying fathers and marriage are important. Obviously, you’ve both been saying that for many years.
But David, like you, nowadays argues that the only thing that justifies the state’s interest in recognizing marriage is marriage’s generative capacity.
That’s simply not compatible with the marriage movement’s “statement of principles”, which you drafted in 2000:
Marriage is a personal bond. Marriage is the ultimate avowal of caring, committed, and collaborative love. Marriage incorporates our desire to know and be known by another human being; it represents our dearest hopes that love is not a temporary condition, that we are not condemned to drift in and out of shifting relationships forever.
Five years ago, you and David advocated this; today, both you and David routinely dismiss statements along these lines as adult-centered.
Five years ago, you wrote that the state has an interest in supporting marriage because – among other reasons – “Marriage is a unique generator of social and human capital, as important as education in building the wealth of individuals and communities.”
Let’s put the particulars of that statement aside. What’s relevant to our discussion is that five years ago, you admitted that the state has multiple reasons to want couples to get and stay married, some of which were not exclusively about heterosexual reproduction. What the anti-SSM movement says today – that the only legitimate state interest in supporting marriage is its generative capacity – is incompatible with the marriage movement’s “statement of principles” circa 2000.
I know that you, David and others have written about the connections between generative capacity and marriage for years. But that’s not the only thing you wrote about. And the implicit admission made, in 2000, that marriage has dimensions in addition to generative capacity, and that there are legitimate state interests in marriage in addition to generative capacity, shows your position has changed over the last five years.
And that’s a shame, because your 2000 understanding of marriage was far more nuanced and realistic than the simplistic “generative or nothing” view you take today. As Andrew says, you folks were right in the first place.
P.S. And as for the question of if David wants to be “mean to gay people,” who cares? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure David’s a nice guy – but what matters are his policy positions. What David personally thinks of gays is none of my business.