Ross Douthat on the gay marriage steamroller:
The conservative argument still has serious exponents, but it’s now chuckled at in courtrooms, dismissed by intellectuals, mocked in the media and (in a sudden, recent rush) abandoned by politicians. Indeed, it has been abandoned by Frum himself, who is now energetically urging Republicans to embrace the redefinition of marriage he once warned against.
Yet for an argument that has persuaded so few, the conservative view has actually had decent predictive power. As the cause of gay marriage has pressed forward, the social link between marriage and childbearing has indeed weakened faster than before. As thepublic’s shift on the issue has accelerated, so has marriage’s overall decline.
Since Frum warned that gay marriage could advance only at traditional wedlock’s expense, the marriage rate has been falling faster, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has been rising faster, and the substitution of cohabitation for marriage has markedly increased. Underlying these trends is a steady shift in values: Americans are less likely to see children as important to marriage and less likely to see marriage as important to childbearing (the generation gap on gay marriage shows up on unwed parenting as well) than even in the very recent past.
Correlations do not, of course, establish causation. The economy is obviously playing a leading role in the retreat from marriage — the shocks of recession, the stagnation of wages, the bleak prospects of blue-collar men. Culturally, what matters most is the emergence of what the National Marriage Project calls a “capstone” understanding of marriage, which treats wedlock less as a foundation for adulthood and more as a celebration of adult achievement — and which seems to work out far better for our disciplined upper class than for society as a whole.
But there is also a certain willed naïveté to the idea that the advance of gay marriage is unrelated to any other marital trend. For 10 years, America’s only major public debate about marriage and family has featured one side — judges and journalists, celebrities and now finally politicians — pressing the case that modern marriage has nothing to do with the way human beings reproduce themselves, that the procreative understanding of the institution was founded entirely on prejudice, and that the shift away from a male-female marital ideal is analogous to the end of segregation.
Now that this argument seems on its way to victory, is it really plausible that it has changed how Americans view gay relationships while leaving all other ideas about matrimony untouched?
You can tell this naïveté is willed because it’s selective. There are plenty of interesting arguments, often from gay writers, about how the march to gay marriage might be influencing heterosexual norms — from Alex Ross’s recent musings in The New Yorker on the sudden “queer vibe” in straight pop culture to Dan Savage’s famous argument that straights might do well to imitate the “monogamish” norms of some gay male couples. It’s only the claim that this influence might not always be positive that is dismissed as bigotry and unreason.
A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage. It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.
Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.
Douthat understands much, but he finally misses. None of the gay marriage triumphalism, pace Douthat, is "less triumphant", let alone honest. The gay marriage movement is not about marriage, gay or otherwise. Few gays will marry. Few care.
Gay marriage is a repudiation of Christian natural law, although ironically the gay marriage movement steals the words of natural law. "Marriage equality" is natural law rhetoric, twisted and bastardized to destroy the bulwark of the Christian natural law understanding of man-- the complementarity of man and woman, the reflection of the Trinity in the family, the command to be fruitful and multiply.
But to describe gay marriage as primarily an attack on Christian culture is to misconstrue its motives. Gay marriage is an attack not on culture but on Christians. A focused attack.
Legalization of gay marriage will mean criminalization of opposition to gay marriage. If you are a teacher or an establishment owner or a wedding photographer or a printer or a pastor you will be required to toe the gay marriage line. Comply, with a smile, or else you will be sued or fired or prosecuted. Christians will be forced to choose.
The contraception mandate is just a warm-up. Christians who refuse to teach or endorse or serve gay marriage will be driven from the public square.
Gay marriage proponents are probably right that gay marriage will have little direct impact on heterosexual marriage. Heterosexuals have been successfully decimating marriage for several generations, and gays will merely grease the rails of the plunging train. But the real damage to marriage has been done by heterosexuals.
What gay marriage will decimate is the freedom of Christians to live by their faith.
It is already happening. With the codification of gay marriage, the repression will ignite, like Coliseum torches.