Ross Douthat's job as a New York Times columnist, like that of his colleague David Brooks, is basically to be a conservative liberals will listen to. Douthat is famously conflicted about same-sex marriage; he's opposed to it, but he has trouble articulating exactly why in a way that doesn't come down to religious dogma.
One of the arguments conservatives have made in their criticism of the Prop. 8 decision (see here, for instance) is that, according to some reports, trial judge Vaughn Walker himself is gay, which obviously means he can't be impartial in this matter. But this has uncovered a problem that could lead to a serous legal stalemate.
When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he said, in ways both explicit and implicit, that we could transcend what divided us -- our racial, religious, geographic, or political differences -- and unite in a common national purpose. This rubbed some people the wrong way. Some found it naïve, some even found it cynical.
But whatever else you might say about all that happy talk, even conservatives would have to admit that it appealed to our better natures. We'd all like to believe that even if it doesn't happen very often, we should aspire to find our commonalities, allow our diversity to make us a stronger country, and treat each other with respect even when we disagree. Don’t we believe that?
As you've no doubt heard, yesterday a federal judge struck down California's Proposition 8, which outlawed marriages between same-sex couples. This is the first step in a process that will ultimately lead to Anthony Kennedy deciding whether gay people can get married. This decision wasn't a surprise to anyone who followed the trial -- the side defending Prop. 8 put on a pathetic case, calling only two (not particularly compelling) witnesses and making arguments they seemed to have no idea how to defend when those arguments were cross-examined.
Most progressives are feeling uneasy about this fall's elections, the results of which will probably be somewhere between "that could have been worse" and "Oh. My. God." I'm willing to bet that many of the nutball Tea Party candidates who have emerged will end up proving too extreme even for an angry electorate (and some of them have already lost primaries). But some of them are going to win. And when you hear what they actually believe, it's pretty frightening. Witness this story about Colorado governor candidate Dan Maes (via Think Progress). Cue the crazy: