Prejudice, 21st century style

Andrew Sullivan has been preoccupied with same sex marriage recently. Indeed, many bloggers are expressing opinions on the topic just now, after startling developments in both Iowa and Vermont.

Let me juxtapose two quotes that I found on Sullivan’s blog. First:

Twenty-five, thirty years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, or lesbian.”

– Bayard Rustin, close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. and organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, speaking in 1986

Second — as if they had deliberately set out to illustrate Rustin’s point — a quote from the editors of the right-wing publication, National Review Online:

Few social goods will come from recognizing same-sex couples as married. […] One still sometimes hears people make the allegedly “conservative” case for same-sex marriage that it will reduce promiscuity and encourage commitment among homosexuals. This prospect seems improbable, and in any case these do not strike us as important governmental goals.

The editors of the National Review seem to think that homosexuals are incapable of monogamy. Meanwhile, all over the Western world, we have homosexuals pledging themselves to one another for life — either in marriage or in civil unions — just as many heterosexual couples do.

Anecdotally, I might mention the gay couple who live a few doors down from us. They are the very picture of domesticity. As a couple, they are no less an “institution” than Ilona and I are.

The editors of the National Review speak out of prejudice. Homosexuals are promiscuous — everybody knows that. It’s just the way they are, and the characteristic is therefore immutable:  just as Muslims harbour terrorist sympathies, and black people are less intelligent than whites, and Indians are welfare bums.

Everybody knows what “they” — the dreaded other — are like. The leopard doesn’t change its spots.

Moreover, even if change were possible, reduced promiscuity and increased commitment among homosexuals

do not strike us as important governmental goals.

Monogamy among heterosexuals is a social good; monogamy among homosexuals is not. This, too, is an expression of deep-seated prejudice. Presumably the only social good, where homosexuals is concerned, is that they should cease to exist.

But let me give the last word to Andrew Sullivan:

Remember:  civil marriage for gay couples is not some kind of liberal special right. It requires no concession from anyone else; it requires no individual recognition from anyone who disapproves; it coerces no one; it taxes no one; it spends nothing; it takes not an iota from the rights and dignity of heterosexual marriages. […]

This [strident opposition] is pure animus at this point — a decision to define a political movement [i.e., Republicanism] by the people it excludes and the families it despises.

Right, and right again.


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