Conservatives understand the stakes of gay marriage
Social conservatives are naturally inclined to portray evolution as revolution, but they’re substantially correct about same-sex marriage. Rhetoric like “It doesn’t effect your marriage” suggests gay marriage is just a minor legal tweak, when it’s more like one victory in an ongoing gender revolution. I broadly agree with NRO’s Dennis Prager in his response to Republican Jon Huntsman’s recent endorsement of marriage equality:
I believe that the ultimate aim of the LGBT movement and the rest of the cultural Left is nothing less than to end gender distinctions.
It’s obviously a generalization that ignores a lot of gay/trans/feminist infighting, but yes, leftists generally do think most gender distinctions are pointless and poisonous. But these intuitions are so deep that we’re baffled when conservatives say things like:
…the consequences of redefining marriage — asking children if they hope to marry a boy or a girl when they get older, banning religious adoption agencies from placing children first with a married man and woman, denying the importance of both sexes in making families, choosing boys to be high-school prom queens and girls to be high-school prom kings, and much more…
we think, “Do they realize how ridiculous that sounds?” And the answer is no, they don’t, because it isn’t ridiculous to them. Any major change in marriage–and officially declaring that gender is irrelevant is a major change–is a potential threat to the institution. As Jennifer Thieme at the Christian Post puts it:
Gay marriage does not exist as a stand-alone policy issue. Nor is it a conservative issue, because it requires the natural family to be dismantled at the level of public policy. True conservatives support limited government, and they understand that there are other institutions which serve to limit government power. Two of these institutions are the natural family and religion.
There’s truth here. Families, churches, and the state provide overlapping economic goods: healthcare, food, housing and job training. That means a larger state can make traditional family roles less important.
I think gender-role-based nuclear families unfairly task husbands with being sole “providers”and make wives into dependent unpaid laborers, and I’d feel more economically secure getting welfare from a legally accountable bureaucracy that doesn’t get frustrated if I don’t want to have sex or go to church. Same-sex marriage to me is the culmination of decades of feminist work to build relationships on joy rather than economic obligation. But if you like the old model, it’s a nightmare.