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.