On The Atlantic website, Prof. Phillip Cohen takes a closer look at the debate at the heart of Maggie’s recent newsletter on the New Conversation on Marriage and what it means for the gender divide. In essence, Maggie asks (and the Atlantic columnist ponders) the greater implications of the genderless marriage movement that has surrendered on gay marriage while still fighting for the importance of marriage as a whole. But no matter what theory, political or moral, comes into play, Cohen agrees that Maggie has a point–the “new conversation” embracing genderless marriage, ”throws in the towel on the ideal of marriage as an institution for maintaining gender distinction.”
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The Most Surprising Thing About Conservatives Embracing Gay Marriage
Maggie Gallagher, who more than almost anyone is the face of marriage-rights denial, is justifiably upset about the course chosen by another leading face of the cause, David Blankenhorn. Whichever side wins (and “winning” in this context may simply mean maintaining a donor base sufficient to keep their jobs), the chaos on the family right is interesting and important.
The question they face is this: Can a “marriage” movement survive on gender-neutral terms? That is, are they willing to settle for promoting stable, monogamous parental bonds even if a tiny portion of those bonds are between people of the same sex? At stake, Gallagher fears, is nothing less than the cherished view of men and women as inherently complementary in their essential oppositeness, without which society goes down the drain.
In a piece on her website, Gallagher compares the statement she co-signed with Blankenhorn in 2000, called “The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles,” with his new “Call for a New Conversation.” The comparison is revealing.Blankenhorn now stands opposed to that view. President of the Institute for American Values, he recently stopped resisting the march of marriage rights after serving as a standard-bearer for the cause. His capitulation was stunning, as he had previously been dedicated enough to testify as an expert (until his qualifications were disqualified) in the federal case against Proposition 8 in California. In the wake of Blankenhorn’s reversal, Gallagher—best known for running the National Organization for Marriage—has emerged as the purist’s answer to the outbreak of tolerance (which now includes a number of former-A-list Republicans).