June 02, 2008

Love and Marriage

Austin?s latest post is very important in that it challenges us to rethink the Culture War and brings to the fore many of the ?unintended consequences? of the rather symbolic ?social conservatism? of the Rove era. When images of a same-sex union are flashed up on the television screen?usually of two cuddling yuppies who look eerily identical to one another?it?s natural for Americans in the heartland to see this as all a bizarre charade meant to mock and parody their lives. This might sometimes be true. But more often ?gay marriage? is understood by the gays who actually want to get hitched as a means gaining personal fulfillment and social respectability, even some ?conservative? cred.

This says much about the transformation of homosexuality over the past two hundred years: from the unmentionable dalliance to the ?closeted? identity to the lifestyle choice to the public identity much like that fostered by ethnic pressure groups and ?oppressed minorities? (see also, anti-discrimination benefits from the government, corporations, and universities). I’d mention in passing that while social cons love to bash the notion of a ?lifestyle,? this seems to me preferable to identity politics.

The basic agreement on assumptions—marriage = loving fulfillment—also says much about a curious tendency of both sides of the Culture War to adopt one another?s language. It?s usually the Red Staters who start sounding Blue: for example, we?ll here conservatives oppose Affirmative Action because it?s ?bad for blacks? or defend the Iraq War as a means of advancing women?s rights. But in the gay marriage debate, it?s the Left who are adopting the catch phrases of the social Right. I wouldn?t be surprised if in the future, the social Left begins to justify gay adoption through gay marriage, essentially agreeing with social conservatives that adopted children should only be sent to a ?loving, two-parent household.? 

Social cons have too often fought the culture war by asking the government to ?honor marriage,? to symbolically support the institution. It seems a far better idea to adopt the modest language of the Book of Common Prayer?marriage is a solid base for procreation and economic stability and it keeps men from excessive fornication. Not only is such a conception admirably realistic and undeceived, but it might actually serve to dissuade gays from desiring marriage in the first place?promises of grand personal fulfillment are much more seductive than mundane talk of child rearing, savings, and restricted sex. Better yet, why don?t we start talking about getting the government out of the marriage business altogether?

Subscribe to Taki’s Magazine for an ad-free experience and help us stand against political correctness.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!


Daily updates with TM’s latest