Gay marriage for conservatives

Newsweek is publishing an article called “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage” by Theodore Olson, who worked for both Reagan and W. and who is bringing a suit against California’s Prop 8 to federal court. It’s a beautiful, well-reasoned and passionate article, though I’m not sure what makes it conservative, except for the identity of the author. We gay rights advocates (mostly liberals) have been making the same arguments for 40 years.

As is typical for these sorts of articles, he goes through all the usual arguments against gay marriage (tradition, procreation, “devaluing heterosexual marriage”) and rejects them, but what I really like is that he takes on the real, but now always unspoken reason people oppose gay marriage: “gay people creep us out.” Here’s what he has to say:

If we are born heterosexual, it is not unusual for us to perceive those who are born homosexual as aberrational and threatening. Many religions and much of our social culture have reinforced those impulses. Too often, that has led to prejudice, hostility, and discrimination. The antidote is understanding, and reason. We once tolerated laws throughout this nation that prohibited marriage between persons of different races. California’s Supreme Court was the first to find that discrimination unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed 20 years later, in 1967, in a case called Loving v. Virginia. It seems inconceivable today that only 40 years ago there were places in this country where a black woman could not legally marry a white man. And it was only 50 years ago that 17 states mandated segregated public education—until the Supreme Court unanimously struck down that practice in Brown v. Board of Education. Most Americans are proud of these decisions and the fact that the discriminatory state laws that spawned them have been discredited. I am convinced that Americans will be equally proud when we no longer discriminate against gays and lesbians and welcome them into our society.

I am sending good thoughts his direction, and I sincerely hope that the lawsuit is successful and that we will soon join Spain, Canada, parts of Argentina and Mexico, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa in giving equal status to all loving, caring, committed relationships.

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