The needed conversation on gay marriage

Since John asked me to post at RightWingNews on Saturdays, I have tended to pick my posts geared toward a broader conservatives audience rather than those which address gay issues. Today, I’m changing that policy and posting a piece on gay marriage.

Of late, I have been impressed by the number of conservative bloggers discussing this issue with civility and understanding. On they whole they have not descend into ad hominem when debating gay marriage. This is not to say that all conservatives show such consideration. Indeed, there is much bile on the right side of the aisle. And we should criticize those who descend into such discourse.

But, my experience as a gay conservative blogger, linked more often on conservative sites than on liberal (or gay) ones, is that the greater amount of bile is this debate has come from advocates of gay marriage. At GayPatriot, we find that the number of hate comments we receive increases dramatically when linked on left-wing blogs, but see no noticeable increase in hate when right-of-center sites refer their readers to our posts.

As one who is pretty much ambivalent on gay marriage (comfortable with civil unions, opposed to court-mandated gay marriage, pleased with how Vermont recognized gay marriage), I believe those advocates would better serve their cause if they promoted the change they promote with greater civility as I have said with great regularity on GayPatriot and in the piece I share with y’all today:

Yesterday, in researching a piece I am writing for Pajamas, I reviewed all my posts on gay marriage going back to November when Proposition 8 passed.

I found a common theme in my postings, decrying all too many gay marriage advocates for substituting name-calling for serious discussion of the issue and urging said advocates to follow the lead of people Jonathan Rauch and make careful arguments for the social change they’re trying to promote.

Less frequently, I discussed the issue of gay marriage as social change. And it is. I don’t think we should shy away from talking about it as such. Some social changes are good things. It would benefit our (the gay) community to understand why marriage has long been the defining social expression of heterosexual love. And why it would be a good thing for the institution to serve a similar role for the expression of same-sex love.

Perhaps, I say that a bit clumsily, and perhaps what I call a “common theme” above is mere repetition. But, if I do repeat myself, it is because I believe I am hammering home a point ofparamount importance — the necessary conversation on gay marriage.

I was flattered that without my prompting, Michelle Malkin so generously excerpted my post chastising those who would rather slur gay marriage opponents than challenge their arguments:

Our society could gain by a serious discussion of gay marriage. Gay people in particular would benefit from such a conversation. Yet, the supposed advocates of this change would rather score points in some imaginary contest with conservatives than make a point about the social benefits of extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.

It’s why I believe we need a complete overhaul of leadership of the various gay organizations, particularly those devoted to promoting gay marriage, to replace people who refrain from chastising those who regular paint their adversaries as hate-filled troglodytes with individuals really ready to rumble on the issue.

That is, leaders who recognize that in pushing this social change, they’re “trying to overcome,” in Dale Carpenter’s words, “deeply embedded views about something Americans think is the foundation of responsible family life.” Respect that while some social conservatives harbor much animus against people like us, many, perhaps the great majority, are not so hateful. I believe that some of them can be reached by “gentle suasion,” thoughtful arguments civilly expressed.

It’s that very belief that kept me late one night earlier this week so I could blog on Pete Wehner’s praise for Jonthan Rauch’s essay on marriage. The words of that one-time aide to Bill Bennett showed that broad-minded social conservatives were open to serious arguments on gay marriage.

We just need broaden the conversation. It appears that all too many leading advocates of gay marriage want to avoid that conversation at all costs. They’d prefer to hurl insults and paint all gay marriage opponents with a broad brush, as if the most hateful and vocal opponents define the entire opposition.

By the same token, it would be wrong to let the most hateful and vocal proponents of gay marriage, those who would slur anyone who expresses their support of the traditional definition of marriage, become representative of those who favor this social change. Many (if not most) of those gay couples who do seek state recognition of their unions do understand the meaning of the institution.

They may be best suited to move the conversation we so sorely need in a more civil direction.

Crossposted at GayPatriot.

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