I was away and missed Ross Douthat’s Q and A on marriage equality. Check out the last question from one Lewis Armen, from Oregon. Money quote from Ross’s response:
As a matter of public policy, I’m skeptical of same-sex marriage because I think it instantiates (or ratifies, since obviously we’ve been headed down this road for a while) a public meaning of marriage that’s too formless and open-ended to do the very specific job that the institution evolved to do: To bind and channel heterosexual desire in ways that are specific to the nature of procreation, and that aim to offer as many children as possible the opportunity to grow up in an intimate community with their mother and their father. But saying “we should maintain a distinctive public institution designed to specifically encourage lifelong heterosexual monogamy” — which is basically the traditional-marriage argument, in a phrase — doesn’t preclude making legal accommodations for same-sex relationships, and it certainly doesn’t require gay people to disappear back into the closet or all take vows of celibacy.
I think it’s possible, in other words, for the law to treat different kinds of relationships fairly without always treating them identically.
My problem with this argument is that it must make heterosexual civil marriage a superior contract than homosexual civil marriage, and require a different and necessarily inferior appellation. If the differnce is not all or nothing, then what is the difference? Does Ross support, for example, civil unions with all the rights of marriage? I suspect not. But if not, which civil marital rights would he exclude gays from? And why? That’s the practical answer that almost no one on the right has explicitly offered in the last three decades.
These questions become practical, while Ross is operating entirely within the abstract.
But my main point here is that Ross’ point, though I disagree, is nowhere near bigotry. Or does Mark Joseph Stern really believe that such a position is tantamount to “hate”?