David Blankenhorn’s Nuanced Evolution

“Blankenhorn’s announcement is not merely a victory for marriage-equality advocates, it is a victory for reason and nuance,” as I argue here at TNR.

9 Comments for “David Blankenhorn’s Nuanced Evolution”

  1. posted by David in Houston on

    Blankenhorn had the same twisted rationale that Maggie Gallagher (and the government’s defense of DOMA) holds on to. That if you prevent same-sex couples from getting married it will somehow help straight marriages and families stay together, or help them procreate responsibly, or some other such nonsense. It’s such an immense leap in logic, I honestly don’t know how they can justify their position. You want to make sure that children aren’t separated from their biological parents? Ban divorce and make it illegal to give your children up for adoption. Those are the ONLY two ways that opposite-sex couples intentionally destroy their families; and neither one has anything to do with gay couples getting married.

    I do agree with David that the majority of opposition to marriage equality is based on anti-gay animus… couched in religious beliefs. You simply can’t reason with people that let a 2,000 year old book make their decisions for them. To them, if God hates gays, that’s it, end of story. Of course, these same people never acknowledge that non-religious straight couples get married every single day. Which either makes them incredibly stupid, or self-serving hypocrites. Take your pick. They also never seem to acknowledge that religious beliefs are a choice, and the rest of society is not obligated to follow their chosen beliefs. As far as I know, the United States isn’t a theocracy… yet. If Romney wins, all bets are off.

    I would love to have Mr. Blankenhorn or especially Maggie Gallagher defend Rush Limbaugh’s “lifestyle choice”. Here is a man that has spat on the sanctity of marriage, by getting hitched four times which of course includes three divorces. Then he has the temerity to never have children. But I thought marriage brought together both halves of humanity in order to raise the next generation? I’m confused. Isn’t marriage solely about raising children? Isn’t that what Maggie keeps saying… and using in their anti-gay marriage ads? Why does Rush Limbaugh have the right to define his marriage(s) and family however he wants, but same-sex couples shouldn’t have that same right? That’s the million dollar question that Maggie has never answered. I wonder why?

    • posted by John D on

      Ms. Srivastav has addressed the very point you mention, recently on Andrew Sullivan’s blog (in an “ask me anything” feature). Her response sickened me.

      How does one square being okay with Rush Limbaugh and his successive wives but not with Evan Wolfson and his husband? Well, it involves some pretty shady thinking. Her basic argument is that neither meets the ideal of a man and woman, united for life to raise their biological children. However, Limbaugh could (by some miracle) actually do this. He could marry a woman, raise children by her, and remain with her the rest of their days. And, as Maggie would point out, Wolfson will not be having children from a biological union with his husband.

      That Limbaugh is unlikely to ever reach her standard is immaterial to her. That Limbaugh is more likely to divorce than Wolfson is immaterial to her. All that is material to her is that in the Limbaugh household, a penis might enter a vagina, fertilize an egg, and lead to a child.

  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I’m glad that David Blankenhorn has come around. I think we’ll see more like him over the next five years, as the anti-equality forces are reduced to the religious objectors and the irrational proponents of (as Blankenthorn puts it) “antigay animus”. Although there is some overlap, the two groups are distinct in motivation, and, in my view, should not be confused.

    However, I think it appropriate to point out that Blankenthorn’s rationale for opposing marriage equality (“I opposed gay marriage believing that children have the right, insofar as society makes it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world.“) has never made sense, because there is no logical connection between banning same-sex marriage and child-rearing by the child’s biological parents.

    What struck me, though, was the segement near the close of Blankenthorn’s op-ed:

    I had also hoped that debating gay marriage might help to lead heterosexual America to a broader and more positive recommitment to marriage as an institution. But it hasn’t happened. With each passing year, we see higher and higher levels of unwed childbearing, nonmarital cohabitation and family fragmentation among heterosexuals. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the reconceptualization of marriage as a private ordering that is so central to the idea of gay marriage. But either way, if fighting gay marriage was going to help marriage over all, I think we’d have seen some signs of it by now.

    So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. 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?

    Blankthorn used to argue that there was a more or less straight line correlation between banning same-sex marriage and strengthening opposite-sex marriage. He now has reached the rational conclusion that In fact, the opposite is true, as Jon Rauch made clear a decade ago in his cogent “marriage as gold standard” analysis. As Rauch pointed out, banning marriage for gays and lesbians sends the message that marriage is not important.

    It sounds to me like Blankenthorn is beginning to move in the direction of trying to strengthen “marriage as gold standard”, and if so, that is a very positive development.

    Like Blankenthorn, I don’t know if trying to find common cause between liberal/progressives and conservatives with respect to “marriage as gold standard” will work, but I’m old enough to remember a time when our cultural norm was “If you want to live together, get married, and if you have children, stay married.”, and I think that trying to strengthen “marriage as gold standard” is an effort worth making.

  3. posted by Houndentenor on

    I didn’t read this so much as a change of heart or mind as it is an admission of defeat. He’s not admitting he was wrong. He’s just seeing that this isn’t a fight he’s going to win. I’m just not all that excited to read that.

    • posted by Hunter on


      Blankenhorn’s capitulation strikes me not so much as “a victory for reason and nuance” and an example of equivocation and face-saving. The man simply can’t admit that he was wrong.

  4. posted by ShadowChaser on

    Having viewed Dustin Black’s drama “8” on YouTube, I wonder if seeing John Reilly’s performance — as David Blankenthorn — might have helped the real David Blankenthorn to change his mind (Sarcasm, I assure you)

  5. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    Some of the conservative opposition to gay marriage — in terms of civil law — may be changeable and we should certainly have different people come forward to express their support for marriage equality — in terms of race, color, ethnicity, creed, class, politics, sex.

    However, when you are actually having a very polite chat with the “average” “Jane” or “John” conservative American who opposes civil marriage equality, it is not really based on a rational argument that is consistent or likely to change too much.

    It reminds me of the “What Is Moral Wrong With Homosexuality?” video clip I saw. Yeah, the ‘Gay Moralist’ makes many very rational-consistent ethical and philosophical arguments.

    The problem is that his book and lectures are probably not going to influence some people and these people are still a major player in conservative electoral politics in America.

    This particular group of conservatives, were raised to believe that it is wrong, do not believe that people that say otherwise are credible and will not be swayed much by “egg head” “academic” ethical or philosophical theories.

  6. posted by Regan DuCasse on

    Jim Crow laws didn’t make white people better or more moral people. Similar laws against gay people won’t make straight people better or more moral.
    Discrimination doesn’t work that way. If you essentially punish people for being equally law abiding, tax paying and responsible, then it’s wrongful discrimination.
    Blankenhorn’s and the logic typically asserted by NOM’s reps, is that marriage hasn’t and won’t withstand inclusion of gay people. They use research comparison that never did have anything to do with gay people. Nor have they acknowledged the fact that couples of all kinds of backgrounds and diverse family situation still exist under the SAME rules and standards of marriage.
    The restrictions they expect to be enforced on gay people could EQUALLY be enforced against straight folks.
    Hence, it has to be either equal discrimination for all the reasons NOM asserts. Or equal rights and protections.

    The Constitution’s intents and purpose is getting seriously hammered by the anti gay.
    Starting with protection from tyranny by a majority.
    Next, that since heterosexuals can marry someone who shares their same orientation, it’s only right and fair that gay people be able to marry someone who shares their orientation.
    As we know, there is no morals, competence or fertility test for spousal and parental rights and marriage.
    So no such test should be a requirement of anyone, especially because they are gay and they don’t spontaneously conceive children.
    Lastly, NOM’er never explain why the children of gay parents deserve to matter LESS when it comes to the security and support that marriage brings.
    Their concern for children, is quite selective.
    It stops at non biological and children with gay parents. Such social stigma is a holdover from more primitive, clannish and barbaric cultures that literally put those without a biological family tie, out into the wilderness to fend for themselves from wolves and the elements.
    In other words, anyone who tries to force ancient, primitive cultural values and prejudice on people who travel in the 21st century with everyone else, are hypocrites of the worst kind.

    They try to benefit from the human progress since those times, while resenting it and trying to prevent similar benefit for others.
    Utterly selfish and arrogant. For sure.

  7. posted by Houndentenor on


    Kudos on a very fine interview on Feast of Fun this week. Good job.


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