Another Source of Cyclical Frustration
Andrew Sullivan's Web site is another source of information and opinion that seems to find ways to turn me away each time I begin to find myself gravitating toward it again. For the most part, I find Mr. Sullivan very much worth reading, but on occasion, he takes positions and makes arguments that deeply disappoint me given the high esteem in which I hold him in which much of the conservative opinion world holds him.
This time around, the problem comes up as it frequently does with gay marriage and Sullivan's periodic bouts with Stanley Kurtz. Here's the offending passage from Sullivan's latest post, entitled "Kurtz's Bait and Switch," on the topic:
For some reason, the words "first piece" link to Kurtz's third piece from this round of debate. In the second installment, which Kurtz notes in the third, Kurtz refutes the point that Sullivan informs his readers has been "essentially conceded." Sullivan further misleads readers by suggesting that Kurtz has "reverted" to a different argument, having been defeated on one. Here's the relevant paragraph from Kurtz's first piece:
Not only does Kurtz include a reference to the "Equal Protection Clause," but he later highlights aspects of the Massachusetts case in question that are specifically designed to facilitate this route.
So, having corralled the discussion into the area most favorable to his opinion, Sullivan thereafter moves into what, given his intelligence, can only be disingenuousness with his subsequent post, "Equal Protection." The logical construction of this piece of the argument is, essentially, as follows. After saying "I certainly hope so." to the possibility that the Supreme Court will eventually rule gay marriage a civil right, Sullivan declares that the court will not take up ruling on gay marriage for a long time. After all, "it took well over a century for the Court to rule on inter-racial marriages." In the intervening years, the nation will undergo the "slow federal process" by which, state by state, the people will see the "profound strengthen[ing]" of marriage in the trend-setting states. Then the coup de grace:
Consider the radically changed temper that exploded into the national subconscious around the same time that the Supreme Court struck down miscegenation in the 15 states that still had it (1967); such movements move much more quickly now. Furthermore, it seems reasonably inferable that Sullivan and many, many others intend to push for the Supreme Court's involvement (remember that "hope so") as early as possible.
Ultimately, Sullivan gives every indication of objecting to Kurtz's position because it switches the incline of the playing field. Without a marriage amendment defining the relationship as between one man and one woman, the gay marriage proponents can push for it in each state largely by means of the courtroom rather than the debating floor, as looks likely in Massachusetts's case (and as Sullivan suggests it ought to be). They'll win some and lose some, all the while pushing those they lose toward the Supreme Court.
Sullivan's position, in my opinion, is truly unconservative because it is undemocratic and deceitful. And it is far more divisive to force a controversial issue through the courts than to allow a willing public, through its representatives, to decide whether to provide a varyingly parallel arrangement to marriage for homosexuals until such time as the public is united enough to re-amend.
Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:02 PM EST