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July 2, 2004

A Strategy on Schedule

So this gay-audience–focused piece, Andrew Sullivan posts on his own Web site:

One of the staggering features of America, after all, is its vastness and diversity. By diversity, I don't mean the usual pablum of racially obsessed left-wing bores. I mean real diversity. I mean the bizarre notion that South Beach and Tallahassee are not just in the same country but in the same state. I mean the idea that the West Village and West Virginia are both equally American. Maybe it's because I come from somewhere else, but I wasn't in this country for long before I realized that its federal system is not just a curiosity. It's the only thing keeping this fractious and divided country in one ramshackle piece. ...

So let's be federalists for a while. Until public opinion shifts to a deeper understanding of the humanity of gay people, let's show the world by example what that humanity is. Change does not come instantly. And it takes maturity to see that.

Somehow, Sullivan's timing of this mature piece (and his promotion of it) seems conspicuous, given the impending vote on the FMA. He offers various bits of advice that those who do not wish for same-sex marriage to be litigated into national law, but who are hesitant to take explicit steps to stop it, will find encouraging to hear:

Call off the lawsuits. Let Governor Romney enforce that ancient 1913 anti-miscegenation law to prevent out-of-state couples from getting married. Wait until the generational shift increases support for our equality.

Surely he doesn't believe that such advice will really be followed. And so it has gone, from Sullivan and others, with rhetoric assuaging the reasonable among the cause's opponents and litigation continuing apace. In warning of a backlash, he hopes to preempt one, and he obscures how reasonable that backlash would be, given our "diversity":

ttempts to litigate the national legitimacy of Massachusetts marriages will only risk disaster--by giving credence to religious-right fears that gay marriage in one state will mean gay marriage in every state.

One wonders how much Mr. Sullivan actually believes his various predictions — or, given their persistence against his counsel, other advocates for his cause do. Many of them seem to think the matter irrelevant, but among those who concede the legitimacy of the concern, activists' confidence that laws permitting same-sex marriage will quickly prove "their benign impact, their humanizing potential, their socially beneficial effects" seems an open question.

Posted by Justin Katz at July 2, 2004 11:32 AM
Sullivanalia
Comments

"I wasn't in this country for long before I realized that its federal system is not just a curiosity. It's the only thing keeping this fractious and divided country in one ramshackle piece. ..."

Note that in his mind it is the system of federalism that keeps the country in one piece, as opposed to the common values that federalism is based upon (and which many modern liberals show contempt for). Yet another example of the liberal mindset that praises the institution without understanding the basis for it.

The whole idea that we can have different definitions of marriage in different states (for more than a short period of time) is so preposterous I find it amazing that even thoughtful people like Volokh take it seriously. Of course these newly minted 'federalists' never discuss the possibility that we could try SSM in Massachusetts and Vermot for 10 years, decide that it has negative social consequences, and then decide to go back to the traditional definition.

Posted by: Mike S. at July 2, 2004 1:53 PM

"Change does not come instantly. And it takes maturity to see that." Change does not ALWAYS come instantly. And it doesn't take anything but eyes to see that.

Posted by: ELC at July 2, 2004 2:21 PM

Mike, I like to look at Firearms for a bit of perspective here. Gun laws vary from state to state, from city to city, and rarely is a weapon purchased in one place legally carried in almost any other place -- at least not without jumping though significant legal hoops with each change of location.

This, IN SPITE of the 2nd Ammendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Using this as a bit of perspective, the scare tactics of the anti-FMA lobby seem all the more laughable.

Posted by: Marty at July 5, 2004 11:03 AM