Gay Marriage: Blankenhorn’s Conversion

It is human nature to love the story of a convert, but it is even better when the convert is someone who has been fighting against your cause for a long time.  David Blankenhorn was the key witness for the Prop 8 proponents (anti-marriage) and is generally thought to have made a bit of a shambles with the argument — mostly because there was no legitimate argument to be made.  He is now supporting gay marriage.

Blankenhorn’s primary argument up to the conversion had been that marriage is about having children and that same-sex marriage would undermine that purpose.  Despite his longtime support for so-called traditional marriage, he said the following in his testimony, in response to aggressive questioning:

I believe that adoption of same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children.

We would be more American on the day we legalized gay marriage than the day before.

With quotes like these in his testimony it is perhaps unsurprising that the lead witness against Californian’s right to gay marriage is now identifying as a gay marriage supporter.  Blankenhorn’s position has always been more nuanced and humanist than the anti-gay arguments generally given against same-sex marriage and it is refreshing to see him turn that nuanced acumen to a different conclusion.  I happen to massively disagree with his conclusions as to the worth, goals, and historical understanding of marriage, but it is clear he thinks that human dignity and rights are an important part of saving the institution he cares about and the only way to do that is to stop making the defining feature of marriage the fact that it’s for straights only.

His essay in the New York Times is heartening and a reminder that being out and being vocal about your rights does matter and changes the world, even if it is just one person at a time.

I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.

Gay Marriage: Blankenhorn’s Conversion

6 thoughts on “Gay Marriage: Blankenhorn’s Conversion

  1. 1

    This is wonderful to see.

    Anti-marriage equality folks really are on the wrong side of history on this one. It’s impressive how much support for marriage equality has grown even in just the last couple of years. I only hope we can speed up the process even more.

  2. 2

    I’m sticking with “thanks, but fuck off”. His whole rationale demands that equality-minded people first accept that same-sex couples are less-than, but that we can be accepted as a “lesser evil” in a case where what we must all recognize as the “ideal” situation (only heterosexuals count as “families”) is unavailable. It’s the same thing with parenting; he’ll accept same-sex parents as long as we “respect” his insistence that we’re fundamentally inferior.

    Fuck that. “Thanks” for the political position, but fuck that to the continued insistence that the sense of inherent superiority that he pulls out of his own ass is a condition for his borderline “acceptance”.

  3. 3

    While I’ll take him as one more chip out of the anti-marriage side, the essay is hardly heartening. His three reasons for boil down to two very weak ones: 1) that gays are people (which he says he’s always believed, though previously his belief that everyone’s marriage is open to public scrutiny overrode their consideration), and 2) recognition that he’s on the losing side of public opinion and not wanting to fight back the tide, even though “this emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits.”

    Doesn’t sound good to me. In fact, if we take him at his word (which I might not have before but this essay makes more likely), it means his previous position was motivated not so much by a need to come up with excuses for anti-gay bigotry, but a genuine belief in a rather twisted view of marriage as a whole, gay or straight.

    1. 3.1

      That’s exactly how his three arguments sound to me. “Gay marriage is wrong but fighting against it will cause even more harm. So let’s concede this point and then impose the rest of our morals on what remains of society.”

      And after his last paragraph, I’m wondering what he thinks marriage is.

      For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?

      How would the formal act of getting married make a couple better parents, or better partners in a relationship? Why would it be so important for a child who hasn’t been fed the “only marriage is a true committed loving relationship” BS whether their parents are legally married or “only cohabiting”?
      And does this guy even realise that most of that eeeeevil “artificial reproductive technology” is actually used to enable a couple to have their own biological child instead of adopting? Or is he trying to imply that giving up one’s baby for adoption is inherently bad (as it will be raised by non-biological parents)?

      The guy’s basic assumptions are already idiotic to begin with.

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