This morning, I read New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s meandering and incoherent op-ed, “The Marriage Ideal”. It may have been the worst column written in the history of newspaper, and maybe dating back to stone tablets.
Douthat begins by pretending to be fair. He deftly debunks the baseless arguments used by opponents of marriage equality. He points out that “traditional marriage” is not universal across societies worldwide and that monogamy may be the exception, rather than the rule.
Next, Douthat writes that heterosexuals have generally screwed up the institution of monogamous, life-long marriage by participating in “less idealistic” no fault divorce, frequent out-of-wedlock births, and serial monogamy.
Having said that, Douthat gives condescending lip service that feigns respect for gay relationships, but concludes that separate-but-equal treatment is the only way to preserve the heterosexual marriage “ideal”.
If this newer order completely vanquishes the older marital ideal, then gay marriage will become not only acceptable but morally necessary. The lifelong commitment of a gay couple is more impressive than the serial monogamy of straights. And a culture in which weddings are optional celebrations of romantic love, only tangentially connected to procreation, has no business discriminating against the love of homosexuals.
But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.
But based on Judge Walker’s logic — which suggests that any such distinction is bigoted and un-American — I don’t think a society that declares gay marriage to be a fundamental right will be capable of even entertaining this idea.
What a bizarre conclusion.
I call this the “Jesus Christ argument” to prohibit marriage equality. Douthat is basically saying that the constitutional rights and personal dreams of gay couples, although noble, must sacrificed at the altar to repent for heterosexual sins against the institution of marriage.
If society just stops marriage equality, all the heterosexuals who carelessly trample over marriage will miraculously change their ways over time. Thanks to the sacrifice of the good ole gays, there will be a resurgence of the marriage “ideal”.
Give me a break.
What bothers me is that Douthat printed this drivel without looking at real life examples of places that already have marriage equality. There is the District of Columbia and five states — Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut — where LGBT couples can already marry. All of these places are within a short drive from New York City, so Douthat could have jumped in the car and seen for himself that the affect on heterosexual marriage is nil. Instead, Douthat makes erroneous assumptions without a shred of evidence to support his conclusion.
The truth is, a gay couple marrying does nothing to influence or impact what happens to the heterosexual couple next door. Douthat’s absurd column was nothing more than a slippery attempt to assert heterosexual supremacy. But, it was written in a milquetoast and pseudo-intellectual way so he wouldn’t be scorned as a bigot by gays and enlightened heterosexuals at fancy New York cocktail parties.
What a sad, transparent attempt to justify discrimination. Who does he think he’s fooling?