On Friday, Maggie Gallagher and I had a conversation on Blogginheads in which we continued our attempt to, as she puts it so brilliantly, “achieve disagreement” about whether it is good or bad to gender-neutralize marriage’s entrance rules—i.e., to allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Maggie, as you may know, is one of the chief opponents of same-sex marriage, and has made arguing against our marriages a large part of her career. As you also know, just three days before we spoke, the pro-marriage equality side had won four different state referenda by about 52-48. Maggie was generous in loss; looking at the video, I am embarrassed to say I was testy and not as generous in return. I will apologize.
At the same time, I do think our differing philosophies of marriage become clearer and clearer. She is correct in that hers is losing. As she says, “the fact that sex between men and women makes babies is the central fact about it.” She believes that the purpose of marriage is to take care of that necessary result: tying biological parents to their inevitable offspring. If men and women are going to have sex, they need to be ready to take care of the resulting babies. By enabling same-sex couples to marry, she argues, that message is erased: more and more, the message of the institution of marriage is that what matters is the intimacy between the partners, not strenghtening the tie between sex and responsibility. (Maggie, have I got this right?) She fears, now, that “traditional Christians” like herself will be persecuted for advocating and attempting to live out what they believe, even when they are not speaking hatefully or harming others. In response, I argue that any persecution she might feel is in no way equal to what lesbians and gay men suffered in being excluded from full participation in society—the hatred, fear, beatings, and death that were permissible when we were faggots and queers.
Here are the points that the fine editors at Bloggingheads think will interest you especially:
- A big win for marriage equality 4:28
- E.J.: Straight allies were game-changers 4:33
- Maggie: Allowing unilateral divorce was bad for marriage 2:34
- Are same-sex marriage opponents facing discrimination? 10:14
- The 1965 court case that led to gay marriage 5:24
- Forecasting the politics of marriage 4:04
You will also see that I hydrate even more than does Paul Ryan. What can I say? I’ve always been a thirsty girl.
Here’s my question to you, reader: Are Maggie and I talking with or at each other? Are we discussing in good faith? Is this a worthwhile exercise? Should we continue attempting to achieve full disagreement, or should we shake hands and part? I am asking sincerely. Please let me know, either here or even better, by tweeting me @ejgraff.